We heard at the end of March that linebacker Bobby Wagner and the Seahawks had started negotiations on a new contract. Wagner’s long-term future in Seattle was complicated by whether the team would have to commit significant cap room to Frank Clark, but now that Clark has been traded to Kansas City, the thought was that the Seahawks would shift their focus to getting a deal done with Wagner, who is eligible for free agency at the end of the 2019 season.
However, contrary to those earlier reports, Wagner himself says that he and the Seahawks have not yet started contract talks (Twitter link via Omar Ruiz of the NFL Network). There is still plenty of time to work something out, even if substantive discussions haven’t yet taken place, but if what Wagner is saying is true, that could mean that Seattle is not going to break its budget to keep Wagner in the fold.
After all, the Seahawks are now paying Russell Wilson at a historical rate, so GM John Schneider, who ended up with 11 picks in the 2019 draft when he was originally slated to have just four, needs to focus on acquiring as much cheap labor as possible. Paying a top-of-the-market price for a middle linebacker who turns 29 in June may not be the best allocation of resources, no matter how good that middle linebacker is.
And the free agent contract that C.J. Mosley recently signed with the Jets could have dashed Seattle’s hopes to keep Wagner. Mosley is now getting paid $17MM per year, and he is only two years younger than Wagner. Plus, Wagner is generally a better player, so it stands to reason that Wagner, who is handling the negotiations himself, would aim to match or exceed Mosley’s new pact.
If the Seahawks can keep Wagner for something that more closely resembles Luke Kuechly‘s $12.4MM-per-year deal, then perhaps the two sides can reach an accord. But if Wagner is determined to be paid Mosley money, then he could find himself on a new team in 2020.
Wagner told Ruiz, “I want to retire a Seahawk, but I understand it’s a business. I’m preparing like this is my last year as a Seahawk. If it is, I want to make sure I go out with a bang and make sure I give the city something to remember.”
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.