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Seattle Seahawks

K.J. Wright on NFL future: ‘If it’s not in Seattle, then I’ll be all good’

Former Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright, celebrating a tackle against Atlanta in 2017, ranks fourth in Seattle career solo tackles with 593.  (Tribune News Service)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Longtime Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright isn’t ready to announce his retirement yet.

But during an interview Tuesday on the “I Am Athlete Tonight” show on SiriusXM, Wright said if he plays again it will only be in Seattle.

Wright, who turns 33 on July 23, spent last season with the Las Vegas Raiders after playing the previous 10 with the Seahawks.

While he enjoyed his year with the Raiders, Wright said he no longer wants to play elsewhere and spend time away from his family.

“I mean, I love ball,” Wright said. “But I’m not willing to pick up and leave my family like I did last year. Because my family had to stay back. They didn’t come with me to Vegas. I’m not doing that again. And so I think it’s pretty well known where I stand at, how I want to end my career, going into my 12th season. If it’s not in Seattle, then I’ll be all good.”

There is no indication that the Seahawks have any interest in signing Wright, appearing set at their two inside linebacker spots with Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton, and having signed free agent Uchenna Nwosu and drafted Boye Mafe and Tyreke Smith to lead a crowded competition at the outside linebacker spots.

Backup linebacker spots are also expected to play on just about every special team, one reason those roles are usually reserved for younger players.

Coach Pete Carroll said in May of Wright that “I’ve already talked to him about stuff for the future and all that,” a comment that it was confirmed was in reference to Wright working with the team down the road in nonplaying roles and not about playing in 2022.

Wright signed with the Raiders last year after his contract with the Seahawks ran out and he became a free agent. Wright didn’t sign until August due to a slow-developing market.

Wright said on the “I Am Athlete Tonight” show that he wanted to keep playing after feeling good about his 2020 season with Seattle, when he had a dual role playing weakside linebacker in the base defense and strongside in the nickel.

“Let me tell you, when I first got drafted into the NFL (in 2011) I had one goal and that was to play 10 years,” Wright said. “I said, ‘Lord, if I get 10 years, I am very happy.’ And I hit that. I hit that with Seattle. But my 10th year was so dang good I’m like, I gotta keep this thing going.

“But I’m telling you, it was my free-agency year after my 10th year, it wasn’t what I expected. It was a quiet off-season, man. The money wasn’t, I guess the money was dried up because of the COVID year.

“And it was looking scary. I thought my career was gonna be over because I wasn’t about to play for no vet minimum. But I still wanted to play. But thankfully the Raiders came.”

Asked if he really intends to retire if the Seahawks do not offer him a contract, which for now doesn’t seem likely, Wright said that may be the case.

“It’ll hurt,” Wright said. “I know that walking away from the game will be, you know, that that’s hard to do, but they know where I stand. They know where I stand. But I love my family more than I love football. So I’m not willing to just up and go to a team midseason for five months. I got three kids and I love them way more than just up and leaving them to play some ball. So we’ll see. Seattle knows my heart. It only makes sense for me to go back, and so we’ll see what they end up doing.”

Wright, drafted out of Mississippi State with the 99th overall pick in 2011, had 593 solo tackles with Seattle to rank fourth on the Seahawks’ career tackle list.

Wright also offered an opinion on Seattle’s QB battle between Geno Smith and Drew Lock, saying he thinks not only should Smith be the starter but that the Seahawks should not retain whichever of the two does not win the job.

“I’m team Geno all day,” said Wright, who was teammates with Smith in Seattle for two seasons. “Geno was good. He was scout-team quarterback. The dude has a cannon for an arm. He’s intellectual, you know, having those 2-minute drills during practice throughout the week, the man can play. Just trust him, just trust Geno.

“And what I said was whoever you decide to be your starting quarterback, the other guy has got to leave. You cannot have both those guys in the building throughout the season. ’Cause what’s gonna happen? Let’s say game three or four they’re not playing as well. What are the fans gonna do? … (Say) ‘Put the backup in.’ And so to hell with all that, whoever’s the starting quarterback, the other guy, you gotta trade him or cut him.”