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NFL Draft

K.J. Wright Was Great Signing For Raiders

  • The Draft Network
  • September 3, 2021
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The Las Vegas Raiders bolstered their defense on Thursday afternoon. According to multiple reports, the Raiders agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free-agent linebacker K.J. Wright.

The Raiders defense needed more help in the front seven, specifically at the linebacker position. Cory Littleton disappointed in year one of a lucrative three-year deal last season, and Nick Kwiatkoski struggled with injury in 2020. This strikes me as a terrific move. The addition of Wright could inject a bolt of energy into a group that needs just that. Wright should immediately step into the starting SAM role, a position he’s familiar with from his time in Seattle.

It’s safe to say Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden realized that production and depth at the linebacker spot were going to be a problem for them once again. These things sometimes become evident throughout training camp and the preseason. The Raiders weren’t good enough there a year ago, and the last few weeks haven’t shown enough progress in that department. They were hoping that third-round rookie linebacker Divine Deablo could step in and immediately fill a role, but he struggled throughout the exhibition slate and finished with a preseason grade of 25.9, per PFF.

With the Raiders’ opening game against the Ravens just over a week away, the addition of Wright comes in at the midnight hour, but better late than never, as they say.

Wright represents a low-risk, high-reward type of signing for Las Vegas. Wright was a force to be reckoned with during his time in Seattle. He totaled an astounding 896 tackles, 54 passes deflected, and 13.5 sacks in 10 years as a Seahawk while forming one of the best linebacker tandems the league had seen in some time alongside Bobby Wagner.

The Raiders fielded an embarrassing defense in 2020. There’s no way around that. The opposition racked up 478 points against them last season, the worst total points the franchise has allowed in the Super Bowl era. The hiring of Gus Bradley as the defensive coordinator should help. Bradley had other suitors and his recruitment has earned both Gruden and Mayock praise, and rightfully so. Last season, Bradley oversaw a Los Angeles Chargers defense that ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in total defense and ranked ninth in the league against the pass. That’s the type of improvement the Raiders need on that side of the ball this season. 

Giving Bradley another playmaker he’s coached before in the form of Wright should prove to be a smart investment. There’s plenty of reason to believe this will be a seamless transition for both parties. Wright and Bradley should have a good relationship with one another. Bradley was the defensive coordinator in Seattle for Wright’s first two seasons as a professional, and he still runs the base Cover-3 scheme that Wright is so familiar with.

Skeptics will question how much the 32-year-old Wright has left in the tank as he prepares to enter his 11th season in the league, but we haven’t forgotten how dominant Wright was in his prime. If he can bring the sort of effort and production he’s known for with him to Las Vegas, then there’s no denying that the Raiders’ defense will be better for it.

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