Things are looking up for the Las Vegas Raiders defense but there were major question marks surrounding the linebacker corps. Expected starter Nicholas Morrow is down with an injury for an unspecified amount of time. The team has intriguing young players in Tanner Muse and Divine Deablo but neither has played in an NFL game. The Raiders recently traded for veteran linebacker Denzel Perryman but it’s clear they weren’t comfortable with the group just yet.
According to Josina Anderson, the team has decided to add K.J. Wright to the group.
The former Seattle Seahawk has a Pro Bowl and Super Bowl under his belt so he’s an excellent addition this close to the season. On Tuesday, Las Vegas converted Nick Nwiatkoski’s $2.885 million base salary into a signing bonus which created $2.308 million in cap space, per ESPN’s Field Yates.
That extra money was likely used to add Wright, who the team has been eying for weeks and recently brought him in for a visit. The Raiders have to be excited that this move worked out.
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Wright Is a Great Addition for Raiders
It’s inexplicable that Wright has remained in free agency for this long. Even at 32-years-old, he’s still a very good linebacker. As Mike Dugar pointed out, Wright was the only player in the NFL last year to double-digit have double-digit tackles for loss and passes defended.
He excels in both rush and pass defense. Plus, he should be very familiar with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s defense. He coached Wright in Seattle for two seasons from 2011 to 2012. Obviously, that was almost a decade ago but the Seahawks have mostly run the same defense that Bradley does so it should be an easy transition. He’s going to have to play catch-up before the Monday Night Football opener against the Baltimore Ravens. It’s possible that he doesn’t end up playing in that game considering he hasn’t been in training camp.
Raiders Could Have Excellent LB Corps
For years, the Raiders have been mocked for their poor play at linebacker. It’s been a serious Achilles heel for the team. It looked like they may have fixed the issue last year with the signings of Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski. That didn’t end up being the case as Littleton was a huge disappointment and Kwiatkoski had trouble staying healthy.
If Littleton can return to Pro Bowl form, the Raiders should have a very good linebacker corps. Perryman and Wright are both late additions but should acclimate quickly due to their familiarity with Bradley. Those two are strong linebackers with lots of experience. What was once the Raiders’ biggest weakness is starting to look like a major strength. With the defensive line and secondary also looking improved, the team’s defense could surprise a lot of people this season. It’s just going to come down to how Bradley is able to utilize all the pieces he’s been giving because there’s certainly talent on this defense.