Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker K.J. Wright (50) was deemed by the readers as the most important unrestricted free agent for the team to re-sign. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker K.J. Wright (50) was deemed by the readers as the most important unrestricted free agent for the team to re-sign. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

POLL RESULTS: Wright is the priority free agent

Nearly half the responders said LB K.J. Wright should be at the top of the Seahawks’ re-signing list.

The fans want the old stager back.

With the Seattle Seahawks now into the offseason, one of the first issues the team has to address is its own unrestricted free agents. Seattle has 23 players who are now free to sign with any team, and with the salary cap projected to decrease for 2021 because of coronavirus pandemic-related revenue loss, the Seahawks will have less money with which to entice their own players back.

Therefore, this week’s Seattle Sidelines poll asked readers which unrestricted free agent the Seahawks should prioritize for re-signing.

Add up the votes between the poll posted on The Herald’s website and the one posted on Twitter and it’s veteran linebacker K.J. Wright who received the nod by a substantial margin. Wright brought in 47% of the vote, while running back Chris Carson came in second at 29% and cornerback Shaquill Griffin was third at 18%. The “other” option received 6%.

While I wouldn’t describe these results as surprising, they do go against the current conventional wisdom.

Wright is enormously popular with Seahawks fans, and rightfully so. He’s spent a decade with the team as a high-quality player, and he’s one of just three players who have remained with the team since winning the Super Bowl in the 2013 season. He switched from weak-side linebacker to strong-side linebacker this year to great success and had another productive season.

But Wright is 31 years old, which is approaching retirement age in football. He made $7 million in 2020, and it’s hard to see the Seahawks being able to afford him unless Wright is willing to take a pay cut. And with the Seahawks having invested a first-round pick on linebacker Jordyn Brooks last year — and with three-linebacker sets becoming less frequent as teams play more nickel to combat aerial attacks — I can see where Seattle might not consider Wright a priority. Sentiment only goes so far in the NFL.

Similar things can be said about Carson. Carson has been a valuable and productive back for the Seahawks, but he’s in line to increase his salary 10-fold, and Seattle probably doesn’t have the room to give Carson that type of money. And does that even make sense, considering running back is the position where a team is most likely to find production from a late-round draft pick? Heck, Carson himself was a late-round draft pick who the Seahawks were able to get immediate production from at a low cost.

Griffin may have received the fewest votes of the three, but he may have the strongest argument. Corners are so important in today’s game, and as we saw with the Seahawks’ challenges with Quinton Dunbar and Tre Flowers it’s not easy to find good ones. I understand if people question whether Griffin is good enough to warrant the huge pay raise he’s going to get, but the combination of age (25) and position could tilt the scale.

There wasn’t much support for the “other” option, but one name that was mentioned was defensive end Bruce Irvin. Interesting choice, given he’s 33 years old, wasn’t cheap, and played in just two games before suffering a season-ending knee injury. But a team can never have too many good pass-rushers.

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