While much of the focus in Seattle is on a potential contract extension for Russell Wilson, another key contributor is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, as fellow 2012 draftee Bobby Wagner enters the final year of his rookie deal. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), the Seahawks and Wagner have begun discussing an extension.
Despite missing five games in 2014 with turf toe, Wagner racked up an impressive 135 regular season tackles and was named an All-Pro linebacker, in addition to earning a Pro Bowl nod. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked Wagner fifth out of 60 qualified inside linebackers, grading him as an above-average contributor in pass coverage, as a pass rusher, and especially against the run.
The Seahawks’ secondary has received much of the praise for the defense’s impressive performance in recent years, and players like Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas have already been extended. However, the club’s front seven has been very effective as well. With Wagner and Bruce Irvin both eligible for free agency after the season, and Michael Bennett said to be unhappy with his contract situation, the Seahawks will have some work to do on that side of the ball before the 2016 offseason.
As Rapoport notes (via Twitter), the Wilson and Wagner contract discussions will also affect each other to a certain extent, since the Seahawks can only use the franchise tag on one player in 2016. If both players remain unsigned by next February, the team would have to choose between the two, with Wilson the favorite to earn the tag. If at least one of them has signed a long-term deal by then, it wouldn’t be an issue.
A report in April suggested that Wagner will likely command more than $8MM per year on his next deal.