For the first time in his NFL career, Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner will likely be playing a full season with no K.J. Wright beside him. Wright entered the NFL in 2011, one year before Wagner, and besides missing 11 games in 2018, has basically played every game he could have as a Seahawk. Wagner hasn’t missed more than one game in any season since 2014.
My point is that Wagner and Wright have been the best linebacker combo in the NFL for almost a decade. They are used to playing next to each other and know how to play off one another. Entering 2020, the Seahawks had the highest-rated linebacker group in the league, per Pro Football Focus.
But now, Wright is not currently on any team and is still a free agent. Maybe he re-signs with the Seahawks or maybe Wright decides he’s made enough money and will walk off into the proverbial sunset. Wright is such a great person that it might be better for humanity if he has more time to devote to helping others than playing football.
How the Seahawks not having Wright could affect Wagner
No matter what, though, the current forecast is that the Seahawks will start Wagner next to Jordyn Brooks. Brooks is an amazing athlete and a fantastic tackler. He is a second-year pro who needs more reps and should only get better with more playing time. He deserves that.
But will Wagner be just as good without Wright? When Wright missed those 11 games in 2018, Wagner had to play a lot more coverage. While Wagner should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and is capable of anything, his forte is not guarding receivers like K.J. Wright did. And neither is Brooks’.
Brooks and Wagner are a lot alike. Both can play the entire field, sideline to sideline, and eat up running backs. But they are different from Wright in that they are not as likely to pass cover against tight ends as well. And no one is as good against covering screen passes as Wright, possibly in the history of the NFL. Brooks won’t do this as well.
All this means is that the Seahawks will need Bobby Wagner to do things outside his normal comfort zone and maybe that hurts the Seahawks defense overall. Jordyn Brooks may be a great player one day but he is different from K.J. Wright and that may affect Bobby Wagner in a negative way.