The Seahawks may have their replacement for K.J. Wright, if they need one.
But first, they have to wait out a prison sentencing.
Seattle has agreed to re-sign veteran linebacker Mychal Kendricks. The former Super Bowl starter for Philadelphia started last season for the injured Wright as the Seahawks’ weakside linebacker—when Kendricks wasn’t suspended, or hurt, that is.
Wednesday’s deal on the first day of the new league year is worth “about $4 million,” according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
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ESPN reported the total, with incentive bonuses, could max out at $5.3 million. At that money, the Seahawks may not be in the market for Wright. He could command $5 million or more himself in free agency.
Kendricks’ sentencing in federal court in Pennsylvania for insider trading was postponed from Jan. 25 to April 4.
His new contract is unlikely to have much money guaranteed, a risk-free fall-back for the Seahawks in case he can’t play in 2019.
Wright, the team’s Pro Bowl veteran, officially became an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career on Wednesday. Coach Pete Carroll has said the Seahawks have been working on re-signing Wright. But the market for Wright, who turns 30 in July, could rise higher than the patient Seahawks want to spend, even in the now-secondary waves of NFL free agency.
Before Kendricks’ sentencing hearing got postponed from January, the team was going to know whether he was getting months or years in prison—or perhaps a suspended sentence and no time in jail—before they made a definitive contract offer to Wright.
Sentencing guidelines in federal court in the eastern Pennsylvania suggest 2 1/2 years for Kendricks’ crime. Some there believe he will strike a plea bargain with prosecutors.
It’s possible the Seahawks have through the NFL and Kendricks’ attorneys a read on a likely length and scope of Kendricks’ punishment for the crime to which he admitted last summer.
The U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania charged Kendricks and a bank analyst conspired in a scheme from the summer of 2014 to spring of 2015. The alleged plot gave Kendricks non-public securities information on future investment-bank mergers.
Kendricks admitted last summer in a statement he released through his then-Cleveland Browns that he participated in the scheme.
The Browns subsequently released him without Kendricks playing a regular-season game for them.
The Seahawks signed him the following month, on Sept. 14. That was weeks after Wright had knee surgery, last August. It was also one game after rookie Shaquem Griffin struggled as Wright’s’ fill-in at weakside linebacker, in the opening loss at Denver.
While Wright’s knee issue lingered into November, Kendricks played in four games for Seattle last season. His first of three starts for the Seahawks came in week three against Dallas.
He said he was “blessed” to be playing football again.
He would have started 10 of the 11 games Wright missed in 2018. But Kendricks served an eight-game NFL suspension for the insider trading, from the beginning of October into December. Upon his return he injured his knee and leg starting a game against Minnesota. That put him on injured reserve and required surgery.
Carroll said after Kendricks went on injured reserve the Seahawks wanted to re-sign him for 2019.
“It’s been such a difficult season for Mike. My heart goes out to him,” Carroll said Dec. 12. “He wants to be a part of this thing so badly. But he doesn’t get to this time around. We’ll look forward to getting him back next time and keeping him with us.”
Wednesday’s agreement shows the Seahawks have faith in Kendricks’ recovery from the knee and leg injuries.
They seem to have faith in his dealings with the criminal-justice system in Pennsylvania, too.