For nearly a decade, Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner has taken the field with K.J. Wright starting alongside him.
But during Organized Training Activities (OTAs) this week, Wright was nowhere to be seen at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
Even though Pete Carroll has said the “door is still open,” for Wright’s return, the 31-year-old remains unsigned and still a free agent.
"Of course, it's awkward," Wagner said of OTAs without Wright. "I'm entering Year 10, and I'm used to seeing a particular face, so it's definitely different. I'm hoping that everything still works out and we're able to get him back. I think he's a tremendous player, a tremendous person, someone that anyone would love to have on their team, so we'll see what happens.”
Wagner says he and Wright remain in contact. However, it could be difficult for the 10-year veteran to return to Seattle if he stays firm on his comments of refusing to take a “hometown discount.”
The 2020 season was one of the best of Wright’s career. The fourth-round pick by Seattle in 2011 notched 82 tackles (56 solo), two sacks, one interception, and tied Jamal Adams with a team-high 11 tackles for loss in 2020.
“I have conversations with him,” Wagner said. “I think he's kind of waiting for the right opportunity, and I know he'll get it because he deserves it...
Since 2012, the pair has started over 100 games together for the Seahawks defense, serving a crucial role in the team reaching the playoffs eight of the past nine seasons, including capturing the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.
With Wright still one of the best free agents on the market, the Seahawks are moving on without him, for now. This week, 76 players wrapped voluntary on-field drills at the practice facility. More of the veterans will join the team at mandatory minicamp this coming Tuesday.
One of the NFL’s best linebacker combos in Wagner and Wright will be absent, but Wagner is hopeful that the Seahawks and Wright will reach an agreement eventually.
"I hope that's not the case, I hope we're able to figure that out and work it out, but it would definitely be different," Wagner said.