NFC West Rumors: Wagner, Walker, Eskridge, Lenoir

Seattle made headlines earlier this year when they made the decision to release career-Seahawk Bobby Wagner. The 32-year-old linebacker may have seen the writing on the wall after the team traded away quarterback Russell Wilson, but, according to Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times, Wagner didn’t want to leave Seattle.

The Seahawks released their star linebacker in order to avoid his $20.35MM cap hit in the 2022 NFL season. Wagner understood that but, reportedly, wanted to stick around. The sting of having to leave his home of the last ten years was softened a bit by two factors: the unfortunate way that the franchise handled the news and the eventual conclusion that he would return to his old home of California.

Wagner claimed he heard the news from “so many other people” and had to reach out to head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider to confirm. Carroll and Schneider have since admitted that they regret the way the news was handled.

On returning home, Wagner said, “I didn’t want to leave Seattle. But if I was going to leave Seattle, home was the next-best thing for me and so being able to be home, like I’m at peace with the situation.”

Here are a few other rumors from around the NFC West, starting with a couple out of Wagner’s former home in Washington:

  • Seattle utilized a second-round pick to bring in one of the draft’s top running back prospects, Kenneth Walker III, and they don’t intend to let that use of draft capital sit on the bench. For a number of reasons, Walker figures to factor heavily into the Seahawks’ running backs rotation in 2022, according to ESPN’s Brady Henderson. With Wilson’s departure, and the lack of a star quarterback to step in for him, Seattle will likely rely a little more heavily on the run game. If incumbent starter Chris Carson‘s health keeps him from returning to the field (or even the roster), the team will have to lean on Rashaad Penny. Penny has missed time with injury, too, though, and, whether Penny “misses more times and/or…the Seahawks manage his touches to prevent overwork,” Walker should benefit from increased opportunities to contribute.
  • The Seahawks are set to return their top-three receivers from last year in Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, and Freddie Swain. According to Henderson, though, second-year receiver D’Wayne Eskridge could be the X-factor in Seattle’s receivers room next season. The former second-round pick has had a slow start to his career due to a number of injuries. His rookie season was marred by a toe injury and concussion, and Carroll has opined about time he missed this offseason with hamstring issues. If Eskridge can get healthy and show the talent that made him a second-round pick, he can combine with Lockett and Metcalf to provide a strong receiving corps for quarterbacks Drew Lock and Geno Smith.
  • We’ve talked a couple of times now about the 49ers’ position battle at nickel cornerback. Multiple sources have pinned Darqueze Dennard against rookie fifth-round pick Samuel Womack for the starting job with the possibility that starting outside corner Emmanuel Moseley may slide inside on nickel-formations if Dennard or Womack fail to seize the role. Someone we haven’t mentioned, though, who can’t be ruled out, is last year’s fifth-round pick Deommodore Lenoir, according to Cam Inman of The Mercury News. When he was drafted, many viewed Lenoir as the “heir apparent” to K’Waun Williams, who left for Denver in free agency this offseason, creating the vacant nickel position up for grabs now. Currently, Dennard, Womack, or Moseley are still the favorites to win the job, but Lenoir still has the potential to swoop in and take the crown he was drafted to grow into.
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