K.J. Wright would bring with him age and injury concerns but also talent and leadership if he departs the Seahawks for the Chargers.
COSTA MESA, Calif. — Heading into free agency this week, the Los Angeles Chargers need just a few pieces to put them over the top as a Super Bowl contender.
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco once again outlined his strategy in building a roster this offseason.
“Anybody that has watched us build our team over the last couple of years, I think you can see that we like to draft, develop and re-sign our own, and then be very selective in free agency,” Telesco said.
The Chargers have also done a nice job over the past three years of selectively adding impact players through free agency, including Casey Hayward, Russell Okung, Mike Pouncey, Travis Benjamin and Mebane.
However, that does not mean the Chargers cannot get an impact player who can help them.
The Seahawks have already indicated they will let the Wright establish his value in free agency this week.
“K.J. has been a really, really important part of what we have been doing and we would love to have him back,” Seahawks GM John Schneider said during the NFL scouting combine last week. “It’s just a matter of him, and if his people are going to figure out and get a good lay of the land this week in terms of speaking with other teams, but obviously we are going to stay in close communication with him.”
Added Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll: “He’s an incredible part of our program and such a tremendous asset — a leader, performer, personality — everything about him. It’s great to have him around. I hope we can keep. We’re going to try to.”
The Chargers finished with three starting linebackers on injured reserve last season in Perryman, Jatavis Brown and Kyzir White, forcing them to play seven defensive backs in a humbling playoff loss against the New England Patriots.
Wright would reunite with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley in L.A., adding an impact player intimately familiar with the Bolts’ scheme from playing in it for eight years in Seattle.
Selected in the fourth round out of Mississippi State by the Seahawks in the 2011 draft, at 6-foot-4 and 246 pounds, Wright is equally adept at playing the run and the pass, and comfortable with the spotlight of playing in big games.
Wright went to the Pro Bowl after the 2016 season and has been a crucial cog in one of the best defenses in the league. And he has played in big games, including two Super Bowls. He would provide another veteran voice and steadying iNFLuence for a young linebacker position group that includes Uchenna Nwosu and White.
Injuries and age are a concern. Wright turns 30 in July. He limped through a knee issue that forced him to miss all but five regular-season games in 2018, so evaluating Wright’s health status will be important.
However, Wright had his best game of the season in a 24-22 playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys in January, finishing with nine tackles and an interception.
Along with Wright, here are a couple of other players who could make some sense for the Chargers:
QB Tyrod Taylor: Coach Anthony Lynn had him in Buffalo and he served as a competent understudy for Joe Flacco in Baltimore for four seasons. Bringing Taylor in could make some sense if Geno Smith does not come back in free agency.
LB Anthony Barr: The L.A. native and UCLA product could return to his hometown, adding punch to a leaky Chargers’ run defense.
DT Malik Jackson: The Jacksonville Jaguars recently released the interior pass-rusher. Jackson is familiar with the AFC West, having played with the Denver Broncos his first four years in the league. Jackson also is a Southern California native.