K.J. Wright

Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright will “definitely” take Jordyn Brooks under their wings

Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright will “definitely” take Jordyn Brooks under their wings

Seattle Seahawks fans went from utter confusion to surprisingly hopeful when the Seahawks drafted Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks with their first pick (No. 27 overall) in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Another linebacker? What about LSU’s Patrick Queen? Don’t you want to protect Wilson better?

But Brooks was a player that Seattle general manager John Schneider couldn’t pass it up.

And once the reports came out of Brooks being “the next Bobby Wagner,” the pick seemed more substantial.

But what the selection also showed was the value of the linebacker position in the NFL.

Wagner, the former two-star high school recruit and Utah State prodigy recently did an interview on The Mina Kimes Show featuring Lenny the Dog (podcast).

At the end of the day, you want to pick the best position and hopefully it’s a good sign that people are starting to value the linebacker position. I’m supporting it, excited to have him on the team, excited to bring him in and help him the best we can because we don’t get to be around him like normal… Myself and K.J. will definitely take him under our wing. — Bobby Wagner

The Seahawks linebacking features: future Hall of Famer Wagner, K.J. Wright, and the return of Bruce Irvin to Seattle complimented by young talent such as Brooks, Cody Barton, Shaquem Griffin, and Ben Burr-Kirven. 

[RELATED]: John Schneider: Jordyn Brooks could challenge K.J. Wright for WILL LB job immediately.

[RELATED]: Matt Wells isn’t worried about Jordyn Brooks’ coverage ability with the Seahawks

[RELATED]: Jordyn Brooks could be a long time starter next to Bobby Wagner

Wagner finished the 2019 season recording 86 tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble and one interception. Wright finished with 67 tackles and three interceptions. 

That’s not a bad group to learn from about the professional game. Of course, fans will have to wait to see Brooks and the rest of the Seahawks 2020 draft class in action once it is safe to do so.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Seahawks Podcast with host Joe Fann and special guest Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells.

Seahawks LB K.J. Wright makes a lasting impact in Kenya, helps build two freshwater wells

Seahawks LB K.J. Wright makes a lasting impact in Kenya, helps build two freshwater wells

A visit to Kenya changed K.J. Wright’s life. 

The Seattle Seahawks linebacker, who was vacationing in Maasai Mara in 2018, quickly sprung into action after seeing a young girl carrying dirty water through the village. 

Wright partnered with Healing Hands International to help bring two, new freshwater wells to Kenya. He used a $25,000 donation from being named the Seahawks’ Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee, along with money donated by fans and businesses, to pay for the two wells. 

One year later, Wright returned to the village to see how the wells are impacting the community. 

“It was amazing,” Wright said. “I love going back there and got emotional out there, just shed a few tears, and just water is life, and just to bring that to them just, it was life changing.”

Wright said he was humbled to meet individuals in the community and hear heartfelt stories of gratitude, including one from a teacher who had never seen running water before at their school. 

“It’s like the greatest thing I could have ever done to just give people life and water and just make life efficient for them,” Wright said. “That’s beautiful, and we have easy access to water, but everyone doesn’t have that."

Wright’s fundraising to build wells in Kenya, along with the countless other non-profits he gives back to every year, are a huge reason why he’s been recognized for his outstanding community service activities off the field as the Seahawks Man of the Year. 

While Wright doesn't have his next philanthropic move in Kenya mapped out, he's determined to give back to the community for years to come. 

"We’re talking about next steps, I’m not sure exactly what we’ll do but we’ll see I think I want to do something," Wright said. "I love it out there, it’s great people, they don’t have much but they’re so happy."

Seahawks' LB K.J. Wright is healthy, happy and grateful to still be in Seattle

Seahawks' LB K.J. Wright is healthy, happy and grateful to still be in Seattle

RENTON, Wash. - Plenty of times last season K.J. Wright didn't believe he would remain with the Seahawks beyond 2018. He had plenty of reasons to doubt his future. 

A knee injury led to surgery that limited him to five games and 23 tackles. Also, he had one year remaining on his contract and had reached age 29 with eight body-crushing seasons under his belt. 

"All those signs say, 'thank you for your services, but we have to move on,'" Wright said today following a voluntary offseason training activity at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

Yet, here Wright remains in a Seahawks uniform for a ninth season, longer than any other man on the team, a fact that prompted a reporter to refer to him as the "old guy" of the team.

"Aw," Wright responded with a laugh as he took two steps away from the microphone. "Now I'm going to walk off."

He didn't. He remained and said that having put in more time with the Seahawks than anyone else remaining is "fun" for him. 

"Someone told me yesterday – longest tenured Seahawk – which is a blessing and an honor just to be in one program your whole career and it’s fun being in this position," he said. "It’s more of a mentoring role in this phase and when training camp comes, I’ll be out there hustling and bustling with the guys.”

Wright is one of three remaining starters from the Super Bowl teams of 2013 and 2014. He, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and quarterback Russell Wilson are all that remains from the list of key players from those teams. Wilson, of course, wasn't going anywhere this offseason with one year remaining and coming off of one of his best seasons. Seattle singed him to a four-year, $140 million extension. Wager has one year remaining on his deal and is also coming off of one of his best-ever seasons. He is in the middle of negotiations with the Seahawks. Then there was Wright, coming off of his worst season as a professional, appearing in fewer than 12 games for the first time in his career. 

Wright might have not been brought back if not for his play late in the season. He had seven tackles and a pass defended on the final weekend of the regular season during a win at home over Arizona. In the Wild Card playoff loss at Dallas, Wright made eight tackles (seven solo) and intercepted a pass in the end zone. 

"I think it played a lot into it, " Wright said. 

He also credited the fans, media and people in the Seahawks' building who clamored for his return. 

"I thank everybody for making that happen," he said. 

Wright received a two-year, $15 million contract with $8 million in guaranteed money to be paid out in 2019. The remaining $7 million is not promised to him, which means Seattle could easily let him go after this season should he not perform well or once again become beset by injuries. 

But such unpleasant details are best left for the future. Right now, Wright is gearing up for a season in which he hopes to return to his former self. 

"What I went through last year really put things in perspective for me," Wright said. "Just approach every game, every practice with gratitude and thankfulness because you just never know when something may happen and it could be your last play. So I’m just real thankful and I’m just going to go into this season and just have fun and enjoy it and not sweat the small stuff.”

Maybe nobody on the team is happier about Wright's return than Wagner.

"Since I got here, he’s been one of the guys that has helped me grow into the player that I became and when we first get into the league, you think about getting to that second deal, a lot of guys don’t make it to the third," Wagner said. "So to see him make it to his third deal and see what he’s able to do for his family and the financial freedom that he’s going to have moving forward, life out of football, is amazing."

Wright has a very productive life away football. He's been very active in charities, including an effort to build wells in Kenya, a country in East Africa. Wright said he and about 20 family and friends will travel there next month. He has helped to raise about $70,000 that he said should provide two water wells at a school he visited last year. 

When he returns, training camp will be just around the corner. Seattle coach Pete Carroll has expressed excitement at having a healthy Wright alongside Wagner and veteran Mychal Kendricks. It's a group the coach has called potentially the best Seattle has had since Carroll became head coach in 2010. 

But long gone are many prominent names from the glory years, including safety Earl Thomas, not resigned, and safety Kam Chancellor and wide receiver Doug Baldwin, released earlier this month. 

"It is weird," Wright said. "And when Kam and Cliff (Avril) went down and (Richard Sherman) got traded, that's when you just saw the team shifting," he said. "But it is what it is. It happens."

Not to Wright. At least, not yet. 

"I'm glad they love me," Wright said. "They know what I bring to the table...I know that I'm a good football player but you just have to keep doing it because it's a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately-type business. nobody cares about what you did in the past."

Wright said he is feeling 100 percent healthy right now and plays to be smart during OTAs. Keep his legs fresh. Not put too much on his body until it matters. 

Seattle has added some depth at linebacker to help prepare for the future. When asked if that depth could lead to him taking some plays off in order to help remain healthy, Wright wasn't hearing it. 

"Nah, nah," he said. "I don't like coming off the field."

Seattle hopes he won't need to for at least another 32 games. 

Seattle Seahawks Draft Preview - A starting linebacker of the future is needed

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USA Today

Seattle Seahawks Draft Preview - A starting linebacker of the future is needed

Part 7 in an eight-part series that takes a position-by-position look at the Seattle Seahawks' needs heading into the NFL Draft on April 25-27. 

Past posts: QuarterbacksRunning backsOffensive lineWide receiverTight end; Defensive backs

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Today: Linebacker

Depth Chart: Middle linebacker: Bobby Wagner, Austin Calitro; Outside linebackers: K.J. Wright, Mychal Kendricks, Barkevious Mingo, Shaquem Griffin. 

Need: High.

Expectations: Seattle almost certainly will select a linebacker in the upcoming draft. 

Potential targets: Ashley Young provides a list of potential draft targets at linebacker. 

Picks: After trading defensive end Frank Clark to Kansas City for a first-round pick this year, a second-round pick in 2020 and a swap of third-round picks this year, the Seahawks now have five picks in the draft: first round (No. 21, No. 29), third round (No. 92), fourth round (No. 124) and fifth round (No. 159).

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Pete Carroll has expressed great excitement at having the trio of Wagner, Wright and Kendricks next season. Kendricks was acquired because Wright was injured most of last year. When Wright returned to action, Kendricks was either suspended (insider trading conviction) or injured. The Seahawks are looking forward to having all three in the lineup next season to form what Carroll has said is the team's best ever group of linebackers. 

“I don't think we've ever been better,” Carroll told reporters at the league meetings about the linebackers. “When that all comes together—we've got all kinds of ideas and things we want to do with those guys to use their strengths."

That all said, Wright, who battled injuries all of last season and appeared in just five games, will be 30 later this year and has just signed a two-year deal. Those realities could make it imperative that Seattle add a young linebacker inside of the first three rounds of the draft. 

The last time the Seahawks took a linebacker that high was in 2012 when they selected Wagner in the second round. They didn't draft any linebackers at all in 2013, 2015, 2016 or 2017, and used only a fifth-round pick on Griffin last year.

Mingo, Calitro and Griffin provide solid depth but none of them figure to be a marquee starter in the future. Aside form wide receiver and defensive end with the loss of Clark, adding a future starting linebacker appears to be a must. Getting one deft at rushing the passer would be an added bonus.  

Seattle Seahawks appear content with core players, dip toe in free agency

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USA Today

Seattle Seahawks appear content with core players, dip toe in free agency

Well, at least Seattle signed one Pro Bowler, albeit a kicker. So, there's that. 

The first official day of free agency in the NFL came and went on Wednesday with a plethora of big moves going down around the league, just not in the Pacific Northwest. 

Seattle, true to their typical form, largely stayed out of the signing frenzy despite being armed with about $50 million in cap space to work with. The Seahawks did sign Pro Bowl kicker Jason Myers away from the New York Jets and reportedly will retain the services of linebacker Mychal Kendricks. The Seattle Tims reported this morning that linebacker K.J. Wright would return to the team.

But that's it. Gone are running back Mike Davis (Chicago), cornerback Justin Coleman (Detroit), guard J.R. Sweezy (Arizona) and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (Minnesota).

So, what does all of this mean?  Well, first and foremost it means that general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll didn't believe that an available free agent would elevate their team that went 10-6 last year into true Super Bowl contention in 2019, or at least at the price tag they would have wanted to spend.

On the other side of the coin is the reality that Seattle is about to pay huge raises to three star players. Defensive end Frank Clark, whom Seattle has franchise tagged, has reportedly stated that he will not sign such a designation and will hold out if he does not receive a long-term deal. Clark, 25, led the team with 13 sacks last season and certainly would have received big money on the open market as an urestricted free agent. He ultimately will eat up a huge chunk of Seattle's available cap space. 

Then there is middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. He has one year remaining on his contract and is coming off of another Pro Bowl season. He will turn 29 in June so one would imagine that an extension with about $35 million in guaranteed money would be coming his way soon. Seattle is unlikely to play hardball with Wagner as it did safety Earl Thomas last offseason. He, by the way, has signed a $55 million deal with Baltimore. 

Quarterback Russell Wilson is also entering the final year of his contract. In a world where Kirk Cousins is being paid about $28 million per year and Jimmy Garoppolo, who has accomplished nothing, receives an average salary of 27.5 million, Wilson should break the bank. His number should start at $30 million per season and could reach $35 million. 

So, while Seattle has cap space to work with, it's looking at about $55 million in annual salary it must pay Wilson, Wagner and Clark in order to retain their services beyond next season.

There's also the matter of resigning free agent right guard D.J. Fluker. That would also appear to be a must. 

Seattle will assuredly make another small move, or two. Most of the big fish have been acquired. Bargains will start to present themselves and the Seahawks will be able to pick up players on the cheap that could have an impact. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is out there. But he will likely be too expensive for Seattle's budget. Teams around the league will also release players during the offseason that could be acquired, just as Seattle did last offseason with Fluker and Sweezy. 

But, for all intents and purposes, the Seahawks are what they are. Is that good enough to reach the Super Bowl? We shall find out. 

Has K.J. Wright played his final game with the Seattle Seahawks?

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USA Today

Has K.J. Wright played his final game with the Seattle Seahawks?

Seattle's loss at Dallas on Saturday night in the NFL Playoffs might have been linebacker K.J. Wright's swan song with the Seahawks. 

Wright made a huge play in the game when he intercepted a pass in the end zone during the fourth quarter with Seattle trailing 17-14. He committed a costly penalty when he got flagged for pass interference on third down during Dallas' final scoring drive that gave the Cowboys a 24-14 lead late in the game. Seattle lost 24-22. 

“It was a tough game," Wright said in the visitor's locker room later. "We knew it was going to be a battle... It is a learning lesson for us. We just have to bounce back."

The question is if the "we," he speaks of includes Wright moving forward. 

Wright, 29, just completed a four-year, $27 million contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The 2016 Pro Bowler is coming off of an injury-riddled season in which he appeared in just five regular season games because of a recurring knee injury after having missed just five games during his first seven seasons. Drafted by Seattle in 2011, Wright performed well when able to play this season. His abilities are not an issue. The question is whether Seattle wants to reinvest in him moving forward?

Wright's expressed desires leave no room for ambiguity. 

"I head into free agency and we'll see how that goes," Wright said. "Like I've said, I want to be here. I love playing with this team...And I believe that it would be in the team's best interest if I stay here."

The franchise, Wright said, has given him no indication as to if he potentially has a future with the Seahawks. 

"I want to be here but there's decisions to make and they have to do what's best for their team," Wright said. 

Seattle coach Pete Carroll was asked on Monday about Wright's future. 

“We’d love to have K.J. back with us," he said. "That’s one of the many issues.”

Juxtapose that response to the one Carroll gave when asked about the future of wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who also had an injury-filled season. 

“Yeah, I’m planning on (Baldwin) being right with us,” Carroll told reporters.

Granted, the two situations are not exactly equal. Baldwin has one year remaining on his contract worth $10.25 million of non-guaranteed money while Wright is a free agent who could choose to sign elsewhere. Still, Seattle could release Baldwin and save the $10.25 million on the 2019 cap just like the team did last year when it let go of cornerback Richard Sherman. 

While this is clearly an attempt to read into one man's words, the bottom line is that it doesn't appear that Wright is at the top of the team's lists of offseason concerns. 

Carroll did say that having Wright return to action late in the season helped the defense. 

"He’s such a great player and a great leader and mentality," Carroll said. "He gives other people strength just being around him and he’s unbelievably valuable."

But will that make him worth a new contract?

Seattle has limited options on the roster to replace Wright. Rookies Jacob Martin and Shaquem Griffin had moments but neither appears ready to start next season. Seattle would likely have to draft a linebacker or sign one in free agency. There is always the chance the Mychal Kendricks could return if he avoids going to prison after pleading guilty to inside trading. He faces up to three years. 

Losing Wright would certainly impact the locker room. 

“KJ has been unbelievable for us. I remember coming here in 2012 and seeing this tall, long, athletic linebacker that could make all the plays," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "I was like dang they make linebackers like this? I thought he was a defensive end. He’s been tremendous for us just how many plays he’s made and how many great things he’s done. He’s battled all season through injury. To be able to show up tonight once again and play great football. Him and Bobby [Wagner] are as good as it gets. They are the best tandem in football at the linebacker position. Those guys are special. Hopefully, we can find a way to keep KJ.”

Baldwin called Wright a "rock." 

"He’s been one of those pillars you look towards in the locker room," Baldwin said. "I knew exactly what he stands for. I knew exactly what he was going to bring to the table both on and off the field. It’s a testament to the man he is, first and foremost. He’s been that for all of us. For myself, Bobby has leaned on him so many times. Now the young guys get to experience that. They get the joy of a leader like that in their corner this year. It’s going to be an amazing thing. Hopefully he gets to stay with us.”

Probably nobody on the team would miss Wright more than middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. The two are the lone remaining defensive starters from the 2013 and 2014 Super Bowl teams. Wagner said the way Wright fought throw his injuries to work his way back and play the way he did on Saturday was special to behold. 

"It was a amazing," Wagner said. "Probably had a lot of guys counting him out, didn't think he was going to be good, or whatever the case may be. But you come and see when healthy how amazing of a player he is... It's amazing to have him on the field. It's amazing to see how great of player he is and see how even better of a person that he is. It's a person you definitely want to have in the building."

Wagner said he plans to keep a close eye on Wright's situation this offseason. 

"I'm pretty sure he is going to tell me everything that is going on," Wagner said. "I'll pay attention to it. He's my brother. I hope everything works out but I understand that it's a business, so I don't know what's going to happen."

Carroll likely has an idea what is going to happen. Certainly there are legitimate reasons to move on from Wright. He will be 30. He just made $7.2 million. Would he accept a pay cut to stay? Could he get a stronger offer on the open market than what Seattle would pay him? Would Seattle be better of using that money elsewhere? Also, he's coming off of a knee injury that cost him 11 games. 

But there are also many reasons to keep him around if the price is right. He can still play. He is a leader. And, will Seattle really find someone better for 2019? 

"He’s been a fantastic player for us for years in every way," Carroll said. "In every way he’s been a leader, he’s been tough, he’s been here, he’s been consistent. His messaging, everything he stands for is what we love about him and we’d love for him to be here throughout.”

We shall see just how deeply that love for Wright actually runs. 

Seattle Seahawks get physical with the Kansas City Chiefs, clinch playoff berth

Seattle Seahawks get physical with the Kansas City Chiefs, clinch playoff berth

SEATTLE - The Seattle Seahawks used their power run game and a solid defensive effort against the NFL's top offense to win 38-31 over Kansas City Sunday night at CenturyLink Field and in the process clinch a wild card playoff berth with one game remaining. 

Seattle rushed for 210 yards and contained Kansas City's dynamo quarterback Patrick Mahomes II just enough to remain the current No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs. If the postseason started next week, the Seahawks would play at NFC East champion Dallas (9-6). Seattle (9-6) can hold on to its current seeding with a win next week at home over Arizona (3-12) or with a loss by Minnesota (8-6-1) at home to Chicago (11-4). If Seattle were to lose to the Cardinals following a Vikings win over the Bears in the morning, then the Seahawks would fall to the No. 6 seed and be forced to play at the Bears on wild card weekend. 

Seattle will be returning to the playoffs after a one-year absence. The Seahawks finished 9-7 last season to just barely miss earning a playoff berth after losing at home to Arizona in the final game of the year. 

Many didn't believe that Seattle, owners of one of the worst running games in the NFL last season, had enough talent to return to the postseason in 2018. But the Seahawks made changes to the offensive line, hired line coach Mike Solari and made a dramatic turnaround to lead the league in rushing this season. For Seattle coach Pete Carroll, this will be his seventh trip to the playoffs in nine seasons with the Seahawks. 

“It feels great," he said. "There’s an emotion to it that’s deep and it’s because there weren't very many people that thought we could do this.  Most everybody thought we didn’t have a chance.  To hang together, hang through it, we got it done before the season’s over.  I wish we would have nailed it last week, too, to keep this feeling that’s going on the last 6 or 7 weeks or whatever, I don’t know how many weeks it’s been, but we’ve been riding it.  It’s a magnificent feeling that gives us the confidence that we can go anywhere and play anybody.  We’re ready to roll.”

[ALSO READ: Seahawks' WR Doug Baldwin overcomes season of "hell" to shine against the Chiefs]

Even when the team started 0-2 or sat at 4-5, quarterback Russell Wilson never wavered on his belief that this team was close to turning the corner. Since losing 36-31 at the Los Angeles Rams to fall to 4-5, Seattle has gone 5-1 to reach this point. 

"This year was special just because I think we really came together," Wilson said. "I was talking to some of the guys last night and saying that one of my favorite parts about this season has been watching guys celebrate with one another."

Sunday's victory was by far the most impressive of the season for the Seahawks given the opponent. Kansas City (11-4) still has a chance to clinch home field advantage in the AFC playoffs making them a legitimate Super Bowl contender. 

“I feel like a win like this, it’s just another win but at the end of the day, I feel like it was a win we needed," defensive end Frank Clark said. "Whether it was the Chiefs or anybody else who was coming in here, we wanted to win the game and we knew we were going to win the game, period."

Linebacker K.J. Wright, playing in his fourth game of the season after missing 11 with a knee injury, said the team's leaders helped shape this team into a contender. 

"I’m really proud of this team, this feels really good," he said. "Make it to the playoffs and we are just getting started, we got a lot more work to do. This is just the beginning...We have all the tools. Great running game. Russell (Wilson) is still leading the way. Doug (Baldwin) is shining. This defense is outstanding. Creating turnovers. That’s what it takes, that’s the winning formula. Run the ball, play good defense.”

Getting into the postseason is one thing, advancing far is another. Seattle is 3-2 at home this season against playoff teams, defeating the Chiefs, Dallas and Minnesota and losing to the Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers. On the flip side, Seattle is 0-2 on the road against playoff teams, losing at the Rams and at the Bears. 

In order for Seattle to advance to the Super Bowl with the current playoff seedings it would most likely have to win three road playoff games. First, Seattle would play at Dallas and then at New Orleans (13-2), the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. Should the Seahawks pull off an upset at the Saints, then Seattle would likely have to play next at either the Rams or the Bears in the NFC title game.

There is a scenario where Seattle could host the NFC title game. For that to happen, the Vikings must defeat the Bears in the wild card round to create a reseeding that would send Minnesota to New Orleans and Seattle to the Rams in the divisional round. If the Vikings won at the Saints and Seattle won in Los Angeles, then the Seahawks would host the Vikings in the NFC title game.

There's a lot of "ifs" in play but right now but the fact that matters most is that Seattle's postseason drought ended at one season. 

Seattle Seahawks' LB K.J. Wright's status revealed for the Kansas City Chiefs revealed

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USA Today

Seattle Seahawks' LB K.J. Wright's status revealed for the Kansas City Chiefs revealed

Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright will play Sunday night against Kansas City at CenturyLink Field, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll revealed today. 

Wright has missed 11 games this season because of a knee injury, playing in just three. His last appearance occurred Nov. 11 during a 36-31 loss at the Los Angeles Rams. 

“K.J. made it through the week in great form," Carroll told reporters. "He’s going to play. We’re really excited about him playing and coming back. He looked terrific and his fresh legs may help us out a little bit.”

Seattle's defense could use all the help it can get while dealing with Kansas City's offense, which leads the NFL in total yards per game (427.3) and scoring (35.6).  The Seahawks (8-6) need a win to help secure a wild card berth in the playoffs. Kansas City needs a win to help fend off the Los Angeles Chargers (11-3) for the AFC West crown and home field advantage in the playoffs.

The only Seattle player listed as being out for this game is safety Tedric Thompson, who is bothered by injuries to his ankle and chest.

The good news is that many players that did not practice at points during week are now listed as questionable, including right guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring).

“He’s trying to hold out hope for gameday recovery so we’ll see how that goes," Carroll said. 

Bradley McDougald (knee), running back Rashaad Penny (knee), cornerback Shaquill Griffin (hip), offensive tackle Germain Ifedi (groin) and defensive tackle Jarran Reed (oblique/groin) are also questionable.

McDougald, Carroll said, should be good to go.

“We’ll have to wait and see. I can’t believe Bradley is not playing in this game," Carroll said. "I think he has every intention of playing and he just had to miss the week for his treatment.”

Ifedi tweaked his groin during practice, Carroll said. Griffin should play. 

“Yeah, he’s going to be okay," Carroll said of Griffin. "He made it through the last couple of the days of the week. He’s ready to go so there’s one for you.”

Penny remains a wild card.

“Yeah, we’re holding out hope that maybe on gameday, he can do something," Carroll said. "We’ll find out. He did a little work today for the first time this week and his recovery is going really well so it’s just whether or not it’s the right decision for him to go and if we can get enough information on gameday. He’s going to do some stuff tomorrow too, so we’ll know more.”

Penny and Wright out for Seattle, Baldwin to return

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USA Today

Penny and Wright out for Seattle, Baldwin to return

Seattle rookie running back Rashaad Penny and linebacker K.J. Wright have been ruled out for Sunday's game at San Francisco but wide receiver Doug Baldwin will play, according to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. 

Penny injured his knee during the team's 21-7 win over Minnesota on Monday night and Wright has been hindered by a knee injury for much of the season. Safety Maurice Alexander (concussion) is also listed as being out.

“(Penny) came out of the game last week with a sore knee and it didn’t respond quickly enough to get back for this week, so we’re going to leave him so he can get treated over the weekend,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll told reporters.

Seattle (8-5) can clinch a playoff berth with a win over the 49ers (3-10). 

Right guard D.J. Fluker, who missed Monday's game with a hamstring injury, is listed as doubtful. Seattle has done well twice this season with Jordan Simmons starting in place of Fluker by rushing for over 200 yards at the Los Angeles Rams and against the Vikings. 

Baldwin, who also missed Monday's game, is listed as questionable with a hip injury but should play.

"Doug did really well," Carroll said. "He practiced, made it through it today. He did fine. It looks like he’s playing.”

Safety Bradley McDougald (knee) and defensive tackle Jarran Reed (Oblique) are also listed as questionable.

Carroll said that Wright, who has appeared in just three games this season, is progressing.

"He got reps today," Carroll said. "This was the most he’s had. We’ll check in with him in the morning to see how he recovers and comes back from that. It’s really important how he recovers. We’re going to leave him home so that he can really work hard on it so next week he can have a chance to practice on Wednesday and we’ll just take it one day at a time and see how he goes. He’s optimistic about it and we are, but we really won’t know until the end of next week where he is.” 

Here's to hoping that the feel-good Bobby Wagner story doesn't turn sour

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USA Today

Here's to hoping that the feel-good Bobby Wagner story doesn't turn sour

RENTON, Wash. - Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner entered the team's theater room mostly used for meetings just as coach Pete Carroll's weekly Wednesday press conference was winding down. 

Noticing Wagner while in mid-sentence, Carroll shifted gears from the question at hand, smiled and stated: "If we can just get any leadership in the linebacker room it would be a little bit – oh, oh sorry Bobby.”

After the laughter died down, Carroll fielded a question about Wagner's play and leadership, which have helped propel Seattle's defense. After lauding Wagner's play, Carroll made reference to liking the way Wagner rushes the passer. "Every once in a while, we give him a call that he gets to do that," Carroll said.

Wagner responded by clearing his throat as if to suggest that he actually does not get an adequate amount of opportunities to rush the passer, which is supported by him having just one sack this the season.

Sacking the quarterback is about the only thing Wagner has not done much of for the Seahawks (8-5) who could clinch a playoff berth with a win Sunday at San Francisco (3-10). Wagner has been productive throughout his seven-year career and appears set to earn a fifth Pro Bowl selection and potentially a fourth All-Pro nod. However, given the major turnover of talent on Seattle's defense, Wagner's performance as a player and a leader may have reached their apex. He is one of two starters remaining from the Super Bowl years. The other, outside linebacker K.J. Wright, has missed 10 games with a knee injury. That has left Wagner as the lone, wily veteran to lead this crew on how to play defense the Seahawks way. 

"More than ever, we’re calling on him to do more than he had done in the past," Carroll said. 

The question moving forward is will the Seahawks reward Wagner with a contract extension this summer or will he be forced to play out the final year of his deal the same way Wright and safety Earl Thomas did this season? Seattle has had more than enough legendary players depart on bad terms be it over money or injuries to put a rather sad face on the end of the franchise's era of dominance. Maybe, just maybe, the Wagner situation could avoid going down a messy road and the face of the defense will have a chance to retire in Seattle on his own terms. Wouldn't that be refreshing?

First, let's address Wagner's value. He is ninth in the NFL in tackles (107) and leads all linebackers in passes defended (11). In fact, only two other linebackers even have double digits in that category. Because of the repeated absence of Wright and veteran acquisition Mychal Kendricks (now out for the season), Wagner has been the key cog within the front seven while helping to bring along young linebackers such as rookie Jacob Martin and Austin Calitro, waived by four NFL teams including Seattle before earning playing time this season. 

“I just go out and try to do my job, man," Wagner said. "I just want to make sure that everybody’s on the same page and you kind of just throw that position into the mix...You just go out there, make the plays, calls and all that stuff and whoever’s next to you, you just try to get them on the same page.”

Wagner's leadership skills are nothing new. 

“He’s always been a leader, he’s always had the juice," third-year defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson said.

Making plays, as he did with an interception for a touchdown against the 49ers and the blocked field goal against Minnesota, also are nothing new. 

“That’s what Hall-of-Famers do, they make big plays like that," safety Bradley McDougald said. "That’s Bobby, he’s going to make them big splash plays and I hope he keeps on making them. He’s a great player, he studies the game, he’s always in the right position to make plays. That’s what you see Hall-of-Famers do.”

Being a leader as the lone veteran voice that also has a grand history with the team is new. 

"He’s a true, middle linebacker," McDougald said. "When I say middle linebacker, that’s what you think of, that’s what you need. He’s the heart and soul of the defense, somebody tough and strong in the middle, that’s where all the stuff happens, in the middle and in the front."

The long list of superlatives could only belong to a player that should be signed to a long-term deal as soon as possible. But will Seattle step up next summer or make Wagner play out his existing contract as the franchise did with Wright and Thomas?

Wagner signed a contract extension in August of 2015 worth $43 million with $22 million guaranteed. The deal made him the highest paid inside linebacker in the NFL at the time. He is scheduled to make $10.6 million next season. Thomas entered this year with $8.5 million remaining on his deal. He famously and acrimoniously held out for an extension that would give him security before begrudgingly returning to action before the first game of the season with no new contract. Three weeks later he went down for the season with a broken leg during a win at Arizona.  

As it stands right now, it appears unlikely that Seattle will resign Thomas or Wright, who entered this season with one year remaining on his deal at $7.2 million. Seattle has done just fine on the field without Thomas and Wright and now will have their combined $15.7 million to use in free agency or on extensions for current players, including quarterback Russell Wilson, who will command a huge payday. 

Could one of those extended players be Wagner, who turns 29 in June?

From Seattle's perspective, extending Wagner would expose the franchise to the same predicament that occurred with safety Kam Chancellor. He received an extension with one year remaining on his deal prior to the 2017 season then suffered a career-ending neck injury. He will make about $25 million over three seasons without playing a down. 

Given Wagner's age, it would appear likely that Seattle would take a wait-and-see approach with Wagner knowing that they have him locked up next year and he will turn 30 in the summer of 2020 when he becomes a free agent. 

The next question then of course becomes what would Wagner's response be to being forced to enter the final year of his deal without an extension? He certainly would he want the security Chancellor received but Thomas did not before the safety's worst fears were realized. But would Wagner, 29, follow the example of Thomas, also 29, and hold out knowing that the team never budged on extending the future Hall of Fame safety?

Wagner said earlier this season that he would hope that the franchise would take care of Wright because he did the right thing by not holding out in the final year of his deal. Wagner's statement almost seemed like a "hint" toward his situation, which he has not openly discussed. 

Here is a suggestion on how this should play out: Seattle could offer Wagner a two-year extension worth about $15 million in guaranteed money and $25 million total. That deal, along with the final year on his current deal, would give Wagner at least just over $25 million over two seasons. If he were to remain healthy and productive and finish the deal, he would receive a total of $35.6 million for three years and could be in line for a new short-term deal at the age of 32.

Otherwise, Wagner would have to take a chance on himself, play out the final year of his deal and enter free agency at the age of 30. It would seem unlikely that he would receive more than about $12 million per season on the open market and he certainly wouldn't be given very many years on any new deal.  

We shall see how this all plays out. But given all of the recent fallout from legendary Seahawks departing in rapid succession, it would be nice to see Seattle and a star player with connections to the Super Bowl years stick around.