If you had to pick the weakest depth position on the Minnesota Vikings what would it be? I’d argue it’s linebacker, and that’s even before the “where’s Anthony Barr?” storyline developed.
Outside of the injured Barr and Eric Kendricks, there are no proven linebackers on the team. Sure, Troy Dye and Nick Vigil have had flashes in the preseason, but that in no way translates to regular-season performance. They’ve never even started in the NFL.
So what’s one more single-year deal to fill a critical position that’s suddenly become an unknown? Obviously cap space is a concern, but with the team as committed to making a run as they are this year, it should be no brainer to fill the gap if Barr is expected to miss time.
Enter K.J. Wright.
Wright is still a free agent and one of the few linebackers comparable to Barr in the NFL. Physically, Wright is only an inch shorter and nine lbs lighter than the abnormally massive Barr. Obviously Barr has a higher ceiling, especially in pass-rushing, but Wright is no slouch and earns even better coverage grades than Barr most seasons.
Bleacher Report (BR) recently ranked Wright as one of the best available free agents available right now:
The 32-year-old has been a steady presence in Seattle since 2011, missing more than three games in a season just once. He’s recorded 941 total tackles, 13.5 sacks, six interceptions and 11 forced fumbles.
Last year, Wright posted 86 total tackles, two sacks and 10 passes defended in 16 games, which earned him a 75.3 Pro Football Focus grade, firmly in the “starter” bracket of the grading process.
BR added one of Wright’s biggest selling points is his reliability, which comes with age. He’s 30 now, but there is no doubt he still is a viable starter in the NFL. That also means he may not want to be a backup, especially on a team that runs many nickel defensive formations. But that’s assuming Barr is going to be playing early and often this season.
Add to the list of benefits that BR thinks Wright’s best fit would be the Green Bay Packers. Any way to screw over the Packers on top of stacking up the home team is a win in my book.
Will Wright settle for a backup role? Probably not, but he might sign with a contender in a pinch who could give him a late-career prove-it deal. And as the Anthony Barr situation starts to remind fans of last year‘s Danielle Hunter situation it’s time for Rick Spielman to act. In a season that’s immensely crucial for the future of he and head coach Mike Zimmer it makes nothing but sense to add one more one year contract to the bunch and bring in Wright. It could be Spielman‘s final piece.
Until we need a new offensive lineman. And then until we need a new kicker and punter. Isn’t being a Viking fan great?