Could K.J. Wright be an option for Carolina Panthers in free agency?
The Carolina Panthers could use the depth at linebacker.
It is no secret that the Carolina Panthers need depth at the linebacker position. It is also no secret that, with the departure of veteran linebacker Thomas Davis, the Panthers will need leadership at the position. I’m about to make a suggestion that will not completely fix the team’s group of linebackers, but this player could be a inexpensive option. Cheap options are important because then that will allow Carolina to possibly take another linebacker in the upcoming draft.
K.J. Wright of the Seattle Seahawks is a name that comes to mind. Wright is set to be a free agent following the end of the season. At 29 years old, he is technically in the prime of his career. The only issue here is, he suffered injuries in 2018 that caused him to miss some time.
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He appeared in five games for Seattle, recording 15 tackles and three pass deflections. His best game of the 2018 campaign came on November 4 against the Los Angeles Chargers. In that contest, he recorded seven tackles (including one tackle for a loss) in correlation with a pass deflection. If anything, it reaffirmed how impactful a player he can be when completely healthy. Unfortunately, that was never the case last season. He just could not seem to get healthy long enough to make a substantial impact.
The best season of K.J. Wright’s career came in the 2016 campaign. That year, he recorded four sacks and 124 tackles in 16 games played, all of which he started. He was named to the Pro Bowl for his efforts. In the playoffs that year, he appeared in two games, recording eight tackles. He also proved he could be effective in getting to the quarterback as he notched eight quarterback hits on the year. Versatility would be an asset to the Panthers, as Tim Weaver of PanthersWire.com notes.
"Wright’s 2018 season was shortened by injuries and he only wound up playing in five games for the Seahawks. When healthy he is arguably the most underrated linebacker in all of football, though. Much like Kuechly, he has a superb instinct for sniffing out screens and trick plays. He’s also well above average in coverage. Adding him to the linebacker rotation would mean no drop-off with Thomas Davis leaving."
Again, I am not saying that Wright will be the be-all end-all for the Carolina Panthers. He would be a nice option to help out a linebacker group that is going to miss the veteran leadership Davis brought to the table. Linebacker is still a position that Carolina should look at in the draft, but he would be a nice veteran piece on a one-year deal. That would make it a “Prove yourself” type of contract, but in dealing with a guy coming off injuries, that might be what you want as an organization. He may still have something left in the tank and at age 29, it is a fair bet that he does.
Many names are going to be tossed around during the off-season. The Carolina Panthers have some work to do themselves in terms of evaluating and identifying players that would fit well with their team. Wright would be a great fit in terms of leadership and the Panthers would be wise to take a look at him as an option to fill out their linebacker group.