K.J. Wright, the Seahawks and the four year qualifying contract (they haven’t given him)

Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

As the number of days until the Seattle Seahawks report to training camp next Tuesday dwindles, the hopes of many that the team will bring back fan favorite K.J. Wright seem to be withering as well. As Field Gulls own Willie Keeler reported Wednesday, earlier this week Wright appeared on the Sirius XM Blitz on NFL Radio show and shared some insight on the situation.

The sharing of that insight led many fans to conclude that it is unlikely that a reunion between the team and Wright is in store, while for others it further cemented their belief that Wright would return to the Seahawks on a team friendly contract, potentially even for veteran minimum.

However, the simple fact of the matter is that there is zero reason for Wright to return to the Seattle for the 2021 season on a veteran minimum contract. Sure, the Seahawks took advantage of a veteran minimum salary benefit contract with Wright to pay him a minimum base salary of $1,075,000 and the maximum allowable signing bonus of $137,500. Such a contract would pay $1,212,500, but because of the cap benefit of the veteran minimum salary benefit contract, would carry a cap hit of just $987,500. Due to the fact that it’s the offseason and the Rule of 51 is in effect, signing Wright to such a contract would cost the Seahawks just $137,500 in cap space, as his $987,500 would replace the $850,000 cap hit of Alex Collins.

However, that isn’t the only tool in the CBA available to the Seahawks to bring back Wright at a lower cap hit than his actual earnings.

When the players and owners ratified the 2020 collective bargaining agreement they included the brand new Four-Year Player Qualifying Contract benefit. This benefit allows teams to sign their own free agents who meets specific requirements to contracts that pay more than league minimum, but which count against the salary cap only the league minimum salary. The requirements are that the player must have spent the entirety of the prior four seasons with the team, and for the 2021 league year the contract must pay a salary no more than $1.25M more than league minimum.

What this means is that the Seahawks can, right now and today just as they have been able to do all offseason, can sign K.J. Wright to a contract that pays $2,325,000 for the 2021 season, but which only carries a cap hit of $1,075,000. As noted above, the net cap ramifications of signing Wright are that only his cap hit in excess of $850,000 would count against the cap because of replacement. Putting that together the Seahawks can sign Wright for 2021 at any moment for $2,325,000 and it would cost the team $225,000 of cap space.

And yet they haven’t. And they likely won’t.

Because it’s not him, it’s them. They want to wait until camp. They want to see what they have in their youngsters. They’re just not ready to commit at this point. They had a lot of fun and have great memories of their time with Wright and Bobby Wagner and the Legion of Boom, but they’ve moved on. The team has spent multiple right swipes draft picks on linebackers in recent seasons in Jordyn Brooks and Darrell Taylor and Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven, and the simple fact of the matter is it’s a position group that only has two guys on the field for most plays. That’s two spots in spite of having three Day 1 or Day 2 draft picks on the roster and the aging but other worldly All-Universe Bobby Wagner owning one of those spots outright.

So, again, no, the Seahawk are not going to bring back K.J. Wright. It doesn’t matter how much you love him. It doesn’t matter how much you miss him. The evidence continues to pile up and it’s time to accept that he’s not coming back.

It’s not you. It’s not him. It’s them.

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