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If Money’s Right, Veteran LB K.J. Wright Would be Great Add for Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have too much uncertainty at linebacker right now. From regressing performance in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch to impending free agency for Sean Lee and Joe Thomas, there’s not much to be confident about right now for 2021. This is where another likely free agent, veteran K.J. Wright, could be a big help next season.

Wright has spent 10 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks since joining them as a 4th-round pick in 2011. He earned an immediate starting role as a rookie and has been a mainstay for Seattle ever since, including winning a Super Bowl as part of the “Legion of Boom” defense and going to the Pro Bowl in 2016.

If not for playing in the shadow of perennial Pro Bowl and All-Pro teammate Bobby Wagner, Wright would probably have received more accolades for his own standout play.

Based on recent history it’s doubtful that Seattle will re-sign K.J. now that he’s about to turn 32 years old. The Seahawks have been purging contracts and allowing veterans to walk lately, and now there’s even the talk of a divide between the team and QB Russell Wilson.

If K.J. Wright is on the open market in a couple weeks, there are several reasons that he would make sense for the Cowboys.

First and foremost would be Dallas’ need at the position. Wright may be turning 32 but he’s still three years younger than Sean Lee and has been a much better player the last few years. In 2020 Wright still graded out as one of the better linebackers in the NFL; something none of the Cowboys current LBs could say.

Another factor is Dan Quinn’s arrival as defensive coordinator. Quinn was Seattle’s defensive coordinator for their 2013 Super Bowl win and the following season. In fact, when Quinn left to becomes Falcons head coach, K.J. Wright was quoted as calling him a “defensive mastermind.”

Assuming that Quinn will get the Cowboys back to more of the traditional 4-3 defense that he coached in Seattle and that Rod Marinelli used before 2020, Wright would be able to slide right in as the strongside linebacker. Like Sean Lee, he would also have position flexibility to help back up Smith or Vander Esch and spell them on nickel downs.

Even better, Wright’s leadership, championship experience, and history with Quinn would make him very valuable in the locker room. He could be a huge help to Jaylon and Leighton as they try to get back to consistent, positive player after two rough seasons.

The issue here, as it seems to be with all NFL teams this offseason under the reduced salary cap, will be money. Can the Cowboys afford a player like Wright with Dak Prescott and other financial matters to worry about?

Last year Sean Lee only counted $4.5 million against the salary cap. Unless he is truly enamored with playing for Dan Quinn again or moving closer to his home state of Mississippi, Wright is probably going to expect more in annual compensation based on his strong 2020 performance.

Unfortunately, this one of those opportunities to improve that Prescott’s contract and other cap issues could cost the Cowboys. It’s all the more reason that Dallas needs to get that long-term deal signed with Dak and maximize their cap flexibility this offseason.

K.J. Wright makes a tons of sense for the Cowboys. Hopefully, their financial decisions leading up to free agency help make it possible.

What do you think?

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Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

7 Comments

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  1. As far away as Dallas is from a championship why would you waste any money on a 32 year old player why not use that money on a young player or two that may actually progress into something good it just seems wasteful to me

  2. Because you need veterans to teach our young guys the scheme and how to watch film you can’t have young guys teaching younger guys that’s how you get blown assignments that was the biggest problem last year not enough veterans especially productive ones

  3. KJ has been consistent high performer and hasn’t missed many games in 10 yrs. He continues to be everywhere on the field. He’s familiar with Dan Quinn’s style. The reality is that we can get several good years out of him and his leadership would be a very good addition because he’s a high character guy like Sean. Hate injuries have really hampered Sean’s ability to perform.

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