Bobby Wagner

NFC Rumors: Rodgers, Hawks, Linehan, Bucs

The Aaron Rodgers watch now includes a practice return. The Packers saw their best player resurface at Saturday’s practice after he’d missed all week of workouts. Although NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero points out Rodgers is still questionable (Twitter link) and the Packers will see how he looks Sunday morning, now that he’s gotten in a practice it’s a bit difficult to see the 34-year-old quarterback not suiting up Sunday against the Vikings. Swelling in Rodgers’ left knee remains an issue, per Pelissero (on Twitter), and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein tabs it as unlikely the Packers will give their centerpiece a green light if he’s still sore or experiencing swelling from Saturday’s workout. But the 14th-year passer has dealt with myriad left knee trouble at several points in his career. That said, the Vikings’ defense may be the toughest unit he faces all season; and Minnesota’s front seven will be facing a surely less mobile Rodgers than it ordinarily would.

Here’s what’s new out of the NFC going into Week 2 Sunday.

  • Bobby Wagner serves as the anchor for the Seahawks‘ front seven, having played in 42 straight games. That streak will end on Monday night after the Seahawks declared their top linebacker out for their Bears game. K.J. Wright also will not play. Wagner is battling a groin injury, while Wright is still recovering from a knee scope. Perhaps this explains the team’s need to make the controversial decision to sign Mychal Kendricks, who may face prison time after pleading guilty to insider trading. Barkevious Mingo is the only starting linebacker Seattle will have available in Chicago.
  • Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan saw increased latitude this offseason in the team’s effort to restructure its offense, with Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News writing the fourth-year Dallas OC was involved in the decisions to release Dez Bryant and move on from four offensive assistants. Linehan signed an extension in 2017 that calls for him to be paid approximately $2MM per season, George notes. This makes the Cowboys’ OC one of the NFL’s highest-paid assistants. George adds Linehan could well be on the chopping block if Dallas’ offense nosedives. The Panthers did not see much from Linehan’s unit in Week 1.
  • DeSean Jackson appears set to have another chance to face his original team. The Buccaneers wide receiver is expected to surmount concussion protocol and be on the field against the Eagles on Sunday, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Jackson had his best game as a Buccaneer last week, hauling in five passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns.

NFC Notes: Seahawks, Carroll, Foster, Saints

Appearing on Dave Dameshek’s podcast, Cliff Avril said that following the Seahawks‘ loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, Pete Carroll started losing the trust of his players. The former Seattle defensive end said “a lot of guys got turned off” when the head coach opted for a potential game-winning pass instead of handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch.

Of course, we know what happened next. With the ball at the one-yard line, quarterback Russell Wilson ended up throwing a game-deciding interception to New England cornerback Malcolm Butler.

“If we win that Super Bowl I think we would have won another one,” Avril said (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “I do think the team would have bought in more to what Coach Carroll was saying, instead of going the opposite way.

“Guys started kind of questioning him more instead of following his lead if we had won the Super Bowl.”

The Seahawks ended up losing in the divisional round during the 2015 and 2016 playoffs, and they failed to make the postseason in 2017. The team ultimately let go of a number of veterans this offseason.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner has left Athletes First and is without an agent, reports Liz Mullen SportsBusiness Daily (via Twitter). Wagner signed a four-year, $43MM extension (about $22MM guaranteed) with the Seahawks back in 2016, and he still has two years remaining on that deal.
  • According to Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Hays Webb, 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster had “several months of clean drug screen results” during his pre-trial diversion program (via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch on Twitter). Foster ultimately completed the program. In this past week, Foster has seen both of his offseason arrests lead to dismissed cases. Yesterday, the former first-rounder had a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge dismissed, and we learned earlier this week that he wouldn’t be charged in a domestic violence case.
  • The Saints are still hoping that special teams coach Mike Westhoff will return to the organization after he successfully completes recovery from offseason surgery, according to Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. The 70-year-old underwent surgery for “an issue from his hip all the way down his leg,” and he’s yet to return to New Orleans. Sean Payton had previously expressed some optimism in Westhoff’s return, but he also said he didn’t expect the coach to come back until training camp. After retiring in 2012, Payton convinced Westhoff to return to the NFL towards the end of last season.

NFC Notes: 49ers, Eagles, Injuries

The 49ers have won every game that Jimmy Garoppolo has started this season. However, general manager John Lynch knows that the team’s priority this offseason must be to surround his new signal caller with better talent, reports Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk.

Smith relays quotes that the first-year decision maker made on FS1 today that expresses his decision to move forward with the plan of building around Garoppolo.

“It frees you up in the draft to go looking for other needs and build your team around him,” said Lynch.

At the moment, San Francisco seems to have found two solid play makers in Marquise Goodwin and rookie Trent Taylor. But with running back Carlos Hyde‘s future with the team uncertain being that he will become an unrestricted free agent, the team needs more guys that can help elevate Garoppolo’s game.

It’s certainly a team with a number of holes, but there’s undoubtedly newfound hope that the organization has found their next franchise quarterback given this late season run.

Here’s more notes from around the NFC:

  • While the Eagles have a number of assistant coaches that could be in-line for head coaching gigs after the conclusion of this season, the team’s Vice President of Player Personnel Joe Douglas has gone a bit under-the-radar in terms of garnering interest from general manager needy teams, opines Jeff McLane of The Inquirer. Douglas surprisingly wasn’t mentioned in the league’s annual list of prospective GM candidates. But despite not being named, owner Jeffrey Lurie has spoken highly of the number two football man in his front office. “The hiring of Joe Douglas, I thought, was the pivotal moment of the last year,” said Lurie. With Douglas’ guidance, the Eagles have made a number of quality football decisions that has led them to being on the verge of clinching home field advantage in the NFC. McLane does mention that while Douglas is highly-regarded in league circles, he’s still viewed as strictly a “football guy”, which isn’t the type of person that is now needed to lead an entire front office, according to McLane. Nevertheless, if the Eagles continue to dominant with Douglas partially at the helm, he definitely should start to become more sought after for a lead job in the years to come.
  • Despite the Cowboys getting Zeke back for the first time since Week 8, the team is still dealing with a number of injuries entering their season-defining Week 16 game against Seattle. Star left tackle Tyron Smith is currently dealing with back and knee injuries, but he will “give it a try” this Sunday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Defensive tackle David Irving has been officially ruled out for a third straight game because of a concussion as well, reports David Moore of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Although, there is some good news on the injury front for the Cowboys as stud pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence practiced fully on Friday and is ready to go, per Todd Archer of ESPN.com.
  • The Seahawks are also dealing with a few critical injuries of their own prior to the Week 16 contest, even though the injury news seems to be a bit better on Seattle’s side. Head coach Pete Carroll said after practice that linebacker Bobby Wagner and strong safety Bradley McDougald are on track to play on Sunday, but the team would “wait-and-see” if cornerback DeShawn Shead would be activated from the PUP for this weekend’s matchup, reports Brady Henderson of ESPN.com.

NFC Notes: Zeke, Beasley, Seahawks

It’s been a roller coaster news cycle regarding Ezekiel Elliott‘s six-game suspension since the regular season started. Now in another twist, it appears that if the second-year running back’s suspension is officially handed down in December, the league will force him to sit out through the playoffs, reports Clarence Hill Jr. of the Star Telegram (Twitter link). This news adds another aspect to the ongoing legal feud in that if the team felt that Elliott was going to eventually serve his suspension, wouldn’t they rather him take it now rather than wait till playoff time? It’s an interesting question, and while the 22 year-old has repeatedly stated his intention to fight the league, the issue will remain a cloud over Jerry Jones‘ organization for the rest of the year. Elliott will be allowed to suit up for this Sunday’s game after the United States Court of Appeals granted him a stay earlier in the day.

  • In other Cowboys news, another pivotal member of the offense is set to play in Week 9 as well. Wide receiver Cole Beasley cleared his final step of concussion protocol today after taking the week trying to recover from his head slamming to the ground in last Sunday’s game versus Washington, according to Brandon George of Dallas News. Beasley stated that he didn’t really suffer any concussion symptoms throughout the week, but was definitely feeling the effects of the contact during the game. “It wasn’t crazy,” Beasley said. “It was just kind of some dizziness when I hit the ground and it only lasted for a little while. I was able to pass most of the concussion test stuff, but some of the stuff we did it started making me kind of nauseous and made feel like I was going to throw up and they held me out.”
  • The Seahawks are in a tough spot with injuries heading into this week’s contest against Washington. Apart from Earl Thomas potentially missing a few games, the team also may be without defensive starters Sheldon Richardson (oblique) and Bobby Wagner (hamstring) with both players being officially listed as questionable, according to Brady Anderson of ESPN.com. Anderson does report that safety Kam Chancellor will play in Week 9 after dealing with an ankle injury throughout the week. However, losing these three key defensive starters would greatly hurt a Seattle team that is riding a ton of positive momentum after winning their last four games.
  • Anderson also passes along that Seattle’s newest trade acquisition, tackle Duane Brown, is adjusting to his new team’s offense well because of his experience with the Seahawks zone-blocking scheme, according to head coach Pete Carroll. “He’s done exceptionally well,” Carroll said. “Like we said earlier, the carry-over that he had from six years being in the same system has really ensured that he can make this transition as fast as you possibly could make it.” Brown figures to be a major upgrade at left tackle ahead of the team’s former starter on the blind side, Rees Odhiambo, who ranks as the worst qualified tackle in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.

NFC West Notes: Wagner, Rams, Wilson

Over the weekend, the Seahawks agreed to a lucrative new deal with their star linebacker and today we learned a little bit more about the deal. The Seahawks didn’t use the preferred contract structure on Bobby Wagner by giving him an $8MM signing bonus and a $4MM option bonus, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com tweets. He also hears that Seattle must exercise its option on Wagner’s 2019 contract year between the first and fifth day of the 2016 league year (link). Wagner, Corry adds, has big per game roster bonuses in his deal that aren’t in the contracts of Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman (link). Here’s more out of the NFC West..

  • With new deals for Wagner and quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks have made it clear that they are committed to building a star laden roster while sacrificing elsewhere, Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap writes. Seattle has shown a willingness to spend on certain positions while filling in the second tier with rookies and lower payscale “value” players.
  • The Rams have made it clear that they would like to get a contract extension done with quarterback Nick Foles, but he isn’t the only pending free agent they’re talking to, as Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com writes. “There is some discussion, yeah that makes sense,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “He is not the only one we are talking with. We are talking with a number of our players right now and their representatives. Yeah, we’re heading down that path. I’m really not involved with it other than that I would like to see us get something worked out at some point with him.” The Rams 17 players on their roster that are scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency, including key starters such as Foles, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, safety Rodney McLeod, receiver Brian Quick, and tight end/fullback Cory Harkey. Key depth players such as ends William Hayes and Eugene Sims, defensive tackle Nick Fairley, safety Mark Barron, kicker Greg Zuerlein and quarterback Austin Davis are also due to hit the market. There’s also starting defensive tackle Michael Brockers, who is under control for the 2016 season because of a fifth-year option but has already been in discussions about an extension that would keep the Rams from having to pay him the fifth-year option salary.
  • Wilson’s new contract provides stability in Seattle, Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports (video link) says.

Seahawks Extend Bobby Wagner

SUNDAY, 12:12pm: The deal is done, per the Seahawks’ official website.

SUNDAY, 9:33am: Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times writes that Wagner will receive $22MM in guaranteed money. Former NFL agent Joel Corry tweets that Wagner’s 2016 and 2017 salary guarantees will be for injury only at first, and then become fully guaranteed on the fifth day after the waiver period starts. Corry also notes (via Twitter) that, if Wagner’s signing bonus is based on the same formula the team used when crafting new deals for Thomas and Sherman, about $6-8MM of his guaranteed money will be in the form of a signing bonus. Both Condotta and Corry note that the club had just under $4MM of salary cap room after the Wilson extension, so it will be interesting to see how Wagner’s deal will be structured.

Rand Getlin of the NFL Network points out (via Twitter) that the $10.75MM average annual value of Wagner’s deal “blows the top off” of the inside linebacker market, making Wagner the highest-paid inside linebacker in league history (of course, the inevitable extension for Carolina’s Luke Kuechly will probably change that).

SATURDAY, 11:54pm: Wagner’s four-year extension will be worth $43MM, making him the highest-paid inside linebacker in the NFL, tweets Garafolo. It appears that, like Wilson’s deal, Wagner’s extension will be tacked onto his 2015 season, keeping him under contract through 2019.

SATURDAY, 11:34pm: A day after Russell Wilson agreed to a four-year extension with the Seahawks, Seattle has locked up another one of its key players. According to former Seahawk Michael Robinson (via Twitter), linebacker Bobby Wagner has agreed to a new contract with the team. A source tells Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (Twitter link) that Wagner is expected to officially sign his new deal tonight."<strong

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.

We heard last month that Wagner and the Seahawks were making progress on an extension, and despite the fact that the linebacker ominously tweeted “Can’t keep everyone” yesterday following the Wilson news, head coach Pete Carroll strongly hinted the club would lock up Wagner as well.

It will be interesting to see the years and dollars on Wagner’s extension. An April report suggested the 25-year-old could command a deal north of $8MM per year, but that estimate rose to around $10MM by June. Currently, the largest inside linebacker contract in the NFL belongs to Lawrence Timmons of the Steelers, who is averaging nearly $9.6MM annually. Wagner’s contract figures to be in the same ballpark as Timmons’ deal, perhaps even exceeding it, but the Seahawks probably did well to secure their own standout linebacker before the Panthers extended Luke Kuechly — the Carolina star is expected to set a new standard for inside linebackers when he eventually signs an extension.

Wagner’s deal will add another sizable average annual salary to Seattle’s books. Although the linebacker was probably right when he observed that the Seahawks can’t keep everyone, they certainly seem to be trying. In addition to Wilson and presumably Wagner, Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham, Michael Bennett, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril, and K.J. Wright are under contract through the 2017 season on contracts worth at least $6MM annually — and some are worth significantly more than that.

The Seahawks’ latest extensions leave the team with fewer contract situations to address, but there are still some notable players who will be seeking extensions or restructures. Bennett and Chancellor are both unhappy with their current deals, and the safety is holding out from training camp as he angles for a new contract. Meanwhile, left tackle Russell Okung and linebacker Bruce Irvin will be eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fallout From Bobby Wagner Extension

Let’s take a look at how Bobby Wagner‘s new four-year, $43MM deal impacts his club and several other teams with linebackers anticipating a new contract.

Seahawks

  • ESPN’s Andrew Brandt tweets that the Seahawks structured Russell Wilson‘s extension to give them maximum salary cap room for this season, thereby allowing them to sign Wagner to a long-term contract. As such, the team will probably need Wilson to restructure his deal a couple years from now.
  • Wagner made some waves on Friday when he tweeted “Can’t keep everyone.” As former NFL agent Joel Corry tweets, that message may end up applying to Seattle left tackle Russell Okung, whose contract expires at the end of this year. Bruce Irvin, who is also eligible for unrestricted free agency at the end of 2015, may also be playing his last year in a Seahawks uniform.
  • The Wagner extension has inevitably called attention to the contract situations of Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett, who are both unhappy with their current deals (Chancellor, of course, has decided to hold out of training camp). Corry tweets that, if the Seahawks address Chancellor’s contract, it would “create an issue” with Bennett. Chancellor does have three years left on his contract, so should the Seahawks rework his deal in any way, Corry tweets that Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas will both expect the same treatment in 2016.
  • Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times believes the Seahawks will likely want to keep guard J.R. Sweezy, who is playing in the last year of his contract, but it is too early to say how the team will approach impending free agent punter Jon Ryan (Twitter links).

Buccaneers

  • Rand Getlin of the NFL Network tweets that the Wagner deal was “always going to inform the Lavonte David deal,” a sentiment shared by several other prominent scribes. Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com, though, is not so sure. Fitzgerald points out (via Twitter) that David and Wagner play completely different positions and that David, as a non-pass rushing outside linebacker, is likely to land around $3MM less per season than Wagner.
  • In any event, Getlin tweets that David and the Bucs will continue to talk over the coming days, and both sides are reportedly motivated to strike a deal.
  • Corry tweets that Tampa Bay prefers contracts longer than four years when it comes to extending its best players, so that may be what the team is aiming for with David.

Lions

  • DeAndre Levy, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency at the end of this season, saw Wagner’s deal and hopes to remain with the Lions, but he said he will leave all contract talk to his agent (Twitter link via Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press).

Seahawks Notes: Wagner, Wilson, Chancellor

The Seahawks made the biggest news of the day this morning when they reached an agreement with Russell Wilson, extending the quarterback’s contract through the 2019 season. Now that Wilson is locked up, linebacker Bobby Wagner is next up for an extension of his own, and head coach Pete Caroll said today that the team is “on it,” hinting it could be done soon, tweets Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.

For his part, Wagner sounds a little impatient to get a new deal finalized, admitting today that he considered not showing up for camp, tweets Tom Pelissero of USA Today. When asked if he has a deadline for negotiations, Wagner replied, without elaborating, that his deadline is “now.” Following news of Wilson’s agreement this morning, Wagner also tweeted, somewhat ominously, “Can’t keep everyone.”

While we wait to see if the Seahawks work something out with Wagner, let’s round up several more notes on Wilson’s extension and a couple other Seattle players….

  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) and Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (all Twitter links) provide several details on Wilson’s new deal. The base salaries on the contract are $700K (2015), $12.34 (2016), $12.6MM (2017), $15.5MM (2018), and $17MM (2019). The $31MM signing bonus and Wilson’s $700K salary for this season are the only fully guaranteed figures in the pact. Nearly $30MM in future salaries are guaranteed for injury only, and those salaries will become fully guaranteed on the fifth day after the start of the waiver period each year.
  • Agent Mark Rodgers had a flight scheduled out of Seattle this morning in the event that he and the Seahawks didn’t reach a compromise on Wilson, suggesting today’s deadline was very real, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Rodgers acknowledged that there was a “fairly wide” gap that needed to be closed to get something done with the Seahawks, and said that getting the team to agree to a four-year extension instead of a five-year deal was one key (Twitter links via Pelissero and Condotta).
  • Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap takes a closer look at Wilson’s extension, comparing it to some other top quarterback deals. According to Fitzgerald, you could make a strong case that Wilson’s contract is the best in the NFL for a player.
  • Kam Chancellor, who didn’t report to camp today for the Seahawks, tweeted out a reference to a bible verse that includes the line, “the worker deserves his wages,” Condotta points out (via Twitter).
  • Chancellor is one of two notable Seahawks defenders unhappy with his multiyear contract. The other is defensive end Michael Bennett, who thought until the last minute about holding out as well, tweets Condotta. Bennett is prepared to play this season and won’t let his contract situation become a distraction, but he wants to keep talking to the team about a new deal, per Condotta (Twitter link).

NFC Notes: Eli, Mathis, Wagner, Wilson

Two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning is entering a contract year, which means his 12th season with the Giants could be his last with the team. Adding fuel to the fire is that Manning and the Giants haven’t yet engaged in “meaningful, substantive contract talks,” Rand Getlin of NFL.com reports (Twitter link). However, Getlin noted in a separate tweet that the two sides do want to get a new contract done. Manning, who threw for 4,400-plus yards and 30 touchdowns against just 14 interceptions last year, has a $17MM base salary this season and will count $19.75MM against the Giants’ cap.

Here’s more on the Giants and a couple of their NFC counterparts:

  • Don’t expect the Giants to land free agent guard and ex-Eagle Evan Mathis, per ESPN’s Dan Graziano – who tweeted that New York isn’t serious about signing the two-time Pro Bowler and longtime NFC East rival.
  • Both the Seahawks and linebacker Bobby Wagner are optimistic about getting a new deal done prior to the season, a source told ESPN’s Josina Anderson (Twitter link). Wagner, 25, is entering a contract year fresh off a breakout 2014 that saw him earn Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors.
  • Buccaneers defensive back C.J. Wilson, who lost two fingers in a July 4 fireworks accident and announced earlier today he was taking some time away from the game, isn’t ruling out a return to football later this year. He could end up on Tampa’s practice squad if he does come back, per Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune (Twitter link).

Seahawks, Wagner Working Toward Extension

The Seahawks and Bobby Wagner are making progress in negotiations on a new contract for the linebacker, according to Rand Getlin of the NFL Network, who reports (via Twitter) that there’s optimism a deal could get done before the start of training camp. In a second tweet, Getlin classifies discussions between the Seahawks and Wagner as “very active,” with both sides working to ensure that the Pro Bowler remains in Seattle for the long term.

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 that 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.

While Wagner isn’t the Seahawks’ most notable extension candidate this offseason – that honor belongs to Russell Wilson, with left tackle Russell Okung also in the mix – he may be easier to lock up than some of his teammates. Wilson appears to be seeking a contract that will make him one of the league’s highest-paid players, if not the highest-paid. As for Okung, he’s representing himself without an agent, and may want to wait until after the season to focus on negotiations.

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, and locking up Wagner would be a good start.

A report in April suggested that Wagner figures to command more than $8MM per year on his next deal. Extending him now would also leave the franchise tag available to be used by the Seahawks on Okung, Irvin, or – most likely – Wilson in 2016.