The Raiders made it official on Monday. In one of the more hoped and anticipated moves of the Raiders offseason, they signed free-agent veteran linebacker KJ Wright.
Even at the age of 32, a player of Wright’s caliber still being on the market at this point is a bit surprising. After all, just last season he put up 11 tackles for loss and 10 pass breakups. Wright had every reason to believe teams would be lining up to sign him and that he would’ve been on a team long ago.
“Listen, this offseason I’ve been pissed off all offseason,” Wright said Monday. “I’ve been very, very angry. I’ve been at peace, but I’ve been mad at the same time, if that makes sense. I had a lot of people down on me this offseason and I’m still keeping it going. I’m thankful to be here, but that burning desire you’re talking about, it’s on a hundred right now.”
Ultimately, it took the Raiders finding themselves in desperation mode to finally clear some cap room and pull the trigger on signing Wright to the type of deal he feels his talent is worth.
Where the desperation came was in losing starting linebacker Nicholas Morrow. But even with Morrow, they didn’t have a linebacker who could bring the skillset that Wright brings and be an ideal fit for the SAM linebacker spot. Throughout camp, they had Tanner Muse lining up there with the first team, but he was just a placeholder. And he was waived with the announcement Wright had been added.
Gus Bradley’s defense doesn’t deploy a standard traditional SAM. It’s similar but goes by a different name. And to hear Wright tell it, his job will be a bit of everything.
“I would say to play the OTTO position and if he needs me at any other positions or nickel to know it, and play the hell out of it,” Wright said of his role.
“OTTO position is a guy that’s on the ball, off the ball, buzzing to the flats, setting the edge, making plays in the open field, communicating, helping the MIKE out, setting the front. He’s just the guy that just does everything — blitzes, coming off the edge — so he’s a guy that does a lot. A lot of dirty work, lot of open-field tackles, and so you got to be a baller out there.”
Wright added that he prides himself in knowing all three positions. And being that he and Gus Bradley worked together in Seattle, Wright should have no problem picking things up quickly and fitting right in. He and Cory Littleton should get the bulk of the snaps with Nick Kwiatkoski and Denzel Perryman available to start or play significant snaps at the third linebacker spot.
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