The return of K.J. Wright means there will still be two members of Seattle’s famed Legion of Boom defense on the field in 2019. But make no mistake: That unit is now officially gone.
Wright’s re-signing was a pleasant surprise after Earl Thomas’ long, slow goodbye finally ended with him heading to Baltimore for $13.75 million a year.
With Thomas gone, Wright and Bobby Wagner are the only ones who remain from Pete Carroll’s vaunted defense that helped lead the Seahawks to two Super Bowls and put together one of the most spectacular half-decades in league annals.
But the end also is in sight for Wright, who sounds like he’s going to retire after this two-year contract. And there is no guarantee Wagner will be around beyond this year, the final of his deal.
Unfortunately, this crew started falling apart in 2015 — after that busted Super Bowl. Kam Chancellor’s holdout (and tentative, self-protective play upon his return) sullied his pristine reputation as one of Seattle’s great athletes and ruined the defense’s chemistry. Even though he returned in the first month of the season and the defense finished as the top scoring unit in the NFL for the fourth straight year, the defense was never again as tight-knit.
In 2016, Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman bitched way too much — the latter talking his way into trade discussions — and Thomas broke his leg. Seattle’s reign as perhaps the best defense in NFL history was over.
But Carroll and John Schneider thought they could coax a couple more good seasons out of the faltering unit. So Schneider refused to trade Sherman, who then suffered a torn Achilles in the same 2017 game that ended Chancellor’s career. Then, after a Christmas Eve game in Dallas that season, Thomas told Cowboys coach Jason Garrett to “come get me.” It was clear the end was near for the LOB.
In 2018, Sherman, Chancellor, Bennett and Cliff Avril were all gone, and Thomas’ Seattle career ended ignominiously when he suffered another broken leg early in the season — after he had held out for a new deal all preseason.
So, when Thomas signed his four-year, $55 million deal with the Ravens on Wednesday, it was simply the official end of an era that really finished in 2017.
The way it concluded left a bad taste for everyone — Chancellor and Avril forced by neck injuries to retire, malcontents Sherman and Bennett dumped by a finally fed-up Carroll, Thomas flipping off Carroll as he was carted off the field in Arizona.
That’s why it’s a breath of fresh air to see one of the Magnificent Seven actually brought back. Wright will continue with Wagner, at least for another year.
As for the rest, all we can do is look back at that great five-year run from 2012 to 2016 and remember the iconic players and moments:
How Avril was the master of the strip-sack.
And how Thomas forced two identical fumbles against the Rams and took a bow against the Cowboys …
Here’s to the Legion of Boom.