It Would Be Weird If Bobby Wagner Returned To The Seahawks

I don’t totally get what just happened between the Rams and Bobby Wagner. It was my understanding that they were on the hook for much more money than what he ended up getting. I don’t know how you go from a 5 year $50 million deal with $20 million in guarantees, but only end up paying a little over $7 million for one season.

Anyway, he’s once again a free agent. And, just as he was following his final year here in Seattle, he’s a free agent coming off of a season where he was 2nd team All Pro. I don’t know if that speaks to his level of play, or the lack of impact middle linebackers outside of the NFC West, but either way, it feels like the Rams had a bargain on their hands, and squandered one of his last great years in the NFL.

But, maybe I have to stop thinking about Bobby Wagner in those terms. Ray Lewis played until he was 37 years old. And he was still playing at an All Pro level at age 35. I’m always reluctant to compare guys to the all time greats – and regardless of what kind of person he was off the field, Ray Lewis was the best middle linebacker of the last 30 years – but Bobby Wagner might actually be in that conversation. He’ll be 33 this year. If he continues to take care of himself, and finds himself in the right situation, there’s no reason why he couldn’t play at a high level for another 3-4 years.

Which brings us to the topic of conversation for today. The Seahawks have a history with Bobby Wagner. The Seahawks also have a need to improve the linebacker spot. It’s under debate how important this need is, largely hinging on how serious the injury to Jordyn Brooks was to close out our 2022 season. Will he be back in time for the start of the 2023 season? How effective will he be when he does return? Is this one of those things where he’s not back to normal until 2024, but struggles through this year and wastes everyone’s time with his limited abilities?

The debate part comes in because the NFL defense is an ecosystem. For everything to work as it’s supposed to, all the pieces need to be doing their jobs in harmony with one another. I think a lot of people would argue that the interior of the defensive line was a major culprit in our inability to stop anyone with any sort of regularity. With improved defensive tackle play, they would free up the linebackers to be more impactful. But, since our first line of defense was continuously bulldozed, opposing offenses were able to swallow up our linebackers.

That being said, I don’t think anyone would be happy with another season of Cody Barton, Starting Linebacker for the Seahawks. But, his isn’t really the same position as what Bobby Wagner plays. Indeed, as we transition to a 3-4 defense, it’s fair to wonder why Bobby would be interested in returning at all. It seems drastically different to what he’s used to.

But, let’s disgard that for a moment. Let’s say he’s a savvy veteran who fits into any system. It would still be weird if he returned to the Seahawks.

You can’t deny Wagner had some hurt feelings when the Seahawks released him, so right off the bat it seems like his return would be a non-starter. Then again, maybe you consider his 2022 season the big Fuck You to his former team, proving he’s still got what it takes to be elite in this league.

The market dictated his value last year, and it will continue to show that if he wants to continue playing, it’s going to be at a reduced rate compared to what he would’ve gotten had the Seahawks not cut him in the first place. If he could be had for the right price, I don’t think anyone would say no. But, by all accounts, Wagner wants an opportunity to win a Super Bowl. Maybe beggars can’t be choosers in this regard. I don’t know how the Super Bowl contenders are fixed at middle linebacker at the moment, but if I were Wagner, I don’t know if I would wait around too long after free agency opens in mid-March. If he wants to maximize his dollars, he’ll probably want to jump at what the first tier offers are. The longer he waits, the more teams are going to look elsewhere for their solutions at his position. If he has to wait closer to training camp – or even into the regular season – you can bet he’ll be settling for whatever minimum deal some needy team has available within their cap.

As for the Seahawks, I would wonder if that’s how they’d want to spend their free agent dollars. How many times have we been burned by L.O.B. era players ending their careers here due to premature injury? Also, is that the position we want to use our money on, when we’re probably in need of drafting for our linebacking future?

I know, I know, teams can always find a way to make these things work under the cap. But, we’re looking at putting down a significant chunk of change on Geno Smith. We need to maximize the value of lesser positions like linebacker. Sure, we could always sign Bobby, still draft his replacement, and have that guy learn at his feet. But, we did that already with Brooks. I’d much rather draft someone and play him immediately. Take advantage of a quality linebacker on his rookie deal. Get four full years of value out of him.

Every outside free agent signing that doesn’t address our most pressing need – the defensive line – is going to be a signing that annoys the shit out of me. Even if Bobby goes on to play at a high level for the next 3-4 years, I’d rather look back on his career here with fondness, rather than see how it comes crumbling to a depressing end. Let’s leave the past in the past, and move forward with a group that will hopefully make a whole new set of fond memories.

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