Bobby Wagner

NFC Notes: Jarrett, Peterson, Seahawks

The $42.5MM guarantee in Grady Jarrett‘s contract is essentially a full guarantee. While the Falcons defensive tackle officially received $38MM guaranteed at signing, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports he also has a $4.5MM injury guarantee that turns into a full guarantee on the third day of the 2020 league year. Jarrett is almost certain to receive all $42.5MM. The $38MM figure represents the second-highest full guarantee a team has given to an interior defender, with Jarrett’s deal trailing only Aaron Donald‘s ($50MM fully guaranteed) in that department. So, the zero-time Pro Bowler (but well-regarded lineman) made out well on deadline Monday.

Part of that guaranteed amount is an $18MM signing bonus, with Florio adding Jarrett will earn $6.5MM in base salary in 2019 and $10.5MM in 2020. Of Jarrett’s 2021 and ’22 salaries, only $4.5MM is guaranteed. His 2022 $16.5MM salary is non-guaranteed, and the structure of this contract looks like it will make it fairly easy for the Falcons to cut bait after 2020 if the investment proves poor.

Here is the latest from around the NFC, shifting from the Falcons to teams that do not open camp this week:

  • Part of the reason Patrick Peterson requested a trade last season stemmed from the changes the Cardinals were making on defense. Their switch from their long-used 3-4 look to a 4-3 did not go well, and Peterson was not happy with how far the team fell since the 2015 NFC championship game. “I mean, honestly, what happened last year, it was a lot of turn of events,” Peterson said during a SiriusXM NFL Radio interview (via the Arizona Republic). “Especially being one game removed from going to the Super Bowl, and getting new coaches, getting new staff, a new scheme, when you’re so used to playing in a 3-4, and you felt that it was good for the players that you had on your roster. So, it was just a lot of whirlwind going on last year and I was just frustrated.” Fully backtracking on last year’s trade demand, the eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback recently said he wants to be a Cardinal for life.
  • The Jarrett deal looks like good news for Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes. Reed’s representation will be pointing to Jarrett’s deal as the floor for Reed, Joel Corry of CBS Sports said in the piece. The Seahawks have identified Reed as an extension candidate after his breakout 10.5-sack 2018. Reed statistically outperformed Jarrett in 2018, registering 24 quarterback hits in addition to his sack total. While Corry adds he does not believe Reed will sign for what Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones does, he adds the longer the Seahawks wait on this front the more a 2020 Reed deal — with a Jones pact factored into the equation — could cost them.
  • Bobby Wagner‘s deal will likely take precedence over Reed’s, Condotta continues. The Seahawks have more than $23MM in 2019 cap space and, as of mid-July, stand to hold more than $75MM in 2020. They do not have a bevy of pricey defender contracts on their 2020 cap sheet, with both Wagner and Reed in walk years, so the team will have to determine how it wants to allocate resources. Wagner is still believed to be targeting more money than C.J. Mosley received ($17MM AAV) on the open market.

Extension Candidate: Bobby Wagner

Bobby Wagner has one year left on his current contract with the Seahawks, and the two sides have begun extension talks. It’s unclear how much progress has been made, but with Wagner (understandably) aiming to break the $17MM/year payout that C.J. Mosley landed from the Jets this offseason, there may be some bumps in the road.

For what it’s worth, Robert Mays of The Ringer believes that the two sides will come to terms before the season begins. After all, the Seahawks are projected to have more than $75MM in cap space in 2020, and though they will be paying a ton of money to Russell Wilson for the foreseeable future and also want to extend Jarran Reed, they will be able to fit Wagner, one of the game’s best defensive players, on their books. As Mays notes, head coach Pete Carroll said back in March that, “Bobby’s going to be a Seahawk.”

Wagner attended this month’s minicamp but did not participate in team drills, and he has stated that he will continue to remain on the sidelines until he gets a new deal. And assuming he does get his wish this year, that deal could hit nine figures. Although the general consensus is that the Jets overpaid for Mosley, his five-year, $85MM pact has set the floor for Wagner, and Wagner is much more accomplished. He is a five-time Pro Bowler, four-time First Team All-Pro, and is a bonafide tackling machine, having averaged 140 tackles per year since he entered the league in 2012. The advanced metrics love him just as much as the raw numbers, as Pro Football Focus graded Wagner as the best off-ball linebacker in the league last season.

Wagner has always excelled against the run, and his coverage abilities now rival his run-stopping talents. And while some teams have devalued the inside linebacker role over the past few years, the league’s best quarterbacks exploit the middle of the field to great effect, which makes players like Wagner all the more valuable.

Indeed, Mays suggests that Wagner, who is representing himself, should shoot for a contract that pays him like one of the league’s best 4-3 defensive ends, because he has a similar impact on opposing offenses despite not being a pass rusher. That would mean a $100MM+ deal with an AAV of over $20MM and close to $50MM guaranteed at signing. And considering Wagner’s importance to the team, his place in franchise history, and his relative youth — the birthday boy turned 29 today — that sounds like a pretty reasonable guess.

The Seahawks, who surely don’t want to go to $20MM per year on Wagner’s next contract, could hold firm at whatever price they’ve set and try to put the franchise tag on Wagner next year (which is projected to carry a $16.8MM value). But going that route could lead to an ugly, Earl Thomas-esque battle, and it may be worth a couple million dollars to avoid that.

The guess here is that Wagner gets his contract at some point this summer and that he comes in just shy of the $100MM mark with a five-year, $95MM pact that includes roughly $45MM in fully-guaranteed money.

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Extra Points: Browns, OBJ, Falcons, Hawks

If there was any doubt after he missed all but one day of OTAs, Odell Beckham confirmed on Friday he will report to minicamp on June 3, Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot writes.

Beckham confirmed the news replying to a comment on Instagram when one user told him to “cut out the crap and get to camp.” The star receiver responded, “I’ll be there on the 3rd, u coming?”

In his introductory press conference, Beckham said he wanted to set the tone by showing up the first day when asked how much he’d participate in OTAs. In all, the newly acquired pass catcher made one session and, when asked how much he missed, head coach Freddie Kitchens replied, ” A lot — the offense.”

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Another star player confirmed he will be showing up to mandatory minicamp, ESPN’s Vaughn McClure writes. That was Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley, who did not attend OTAs. Entering the final year of his deal, Beasley is set to earn $12.8MM after the Falcons picked up his fifth-year option this offseason.
  • K.J. Wright believes Bobby Wagner will remain with the Seahawks past 2019, Pro Football Talk’s Curtis Crabtree writes. “It’s going to be really exciting to see everything pan out. He’s going to be a Seahawk for life.” Acting as his own agent, Wagner said he plans to surpass the $85MM with $43MM guaranteed deal that C.J. Mosley just inked with the Jets.

Wagner, Seahawks Begin Extension Talks

Had the Seahawks and Bobby Wagner engaged in contract-year negotiations in 2018, this would have probably been an easier process. But the Jets changed the game in March, transforming the off-ball linebacker market by giving C.J. Mosley a five-year, $85MM deal.

With Wagner having accomplished far more than Mosley, it certainly added a major element to the talks with the Seahawks. While the parties had not begun discussions at May’s outset, Wagner confirmed negotiations have started. But it is certain Wagner wants to eclipse the $17MM-per-year number Mosley received.

That is the plan, to break that,” Wagner said, via Michael-Shawn Dugar of The Athletic (subscription required). “… Like I said, it’s a business. If it works out, it does. If not, it’s been cool.”

At this point last year, Jamie Collins‘ $12.5MM-AAV number paced all off-ball linebackers. Now, Mosley leads all second-level defenders with his massive Jets deal. Kwon Alexander (one Pro Bowl) signed for $13.5MM per year, though the 49ers can get out of that contract rather easily after 2019, and Anthony Barr followed suit with the Vikings. Wagner signed a four-year, $43MM deal in 2015. He is due $10.5MM in base salary this season.

Wagner’s four first-team All-Pro honors trail only Luke Kuechly among active non-rush linebackers. The Seahawks opted not to pay Frank Clark, trading him to the Chiefs, so they appear to be planning for a Wagner future. With Earl Thomas also off the books, the Seahawks do not have a non-Wagner defender earning eight figures annually. But moving up to the Mosley tier certainly won’t be easy, given the radical markup. The Seahawks hold $23.9MM in cap space.

For now, the soon-to-be 29-year-old middle linebacker is attending Seahawks workouts but not participating in drills. Pete Carroll called this tactic “a good decision for him right now.”

It’s a tricky situation,” Wagner said. “It’s a business. You get hurt, they don’t pay you, so you got to be mindful of that. Y’all know I’m a professional; I’m going to be in shape. I work out every single day, so y’all don’t have to worry about me being in shape, and my mind is going to always be sharp.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Wagner, Newton, Zeke

We learned yesterday that the Seahawks and linebacker Bobby Wagner may not have held serious discussions regarding a new contract just yet, and we speculated that if Wagner pushes for a top-of-the-market deal (i.e. $17MM per season), he may be playing elsewhere in 2020. And as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweets, Wagner will indeed be looking to meet or exceed C.J. Mosley‘s new contract with the Jets, and he will not be taking a hometown discount. If that’s the case, it will be difficult for Seattle to retain him.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Good news for Panthers fans. Per David Newton of ESPN.com, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton says his rehab from shoulder surgery is going “unbelievable,” and he hopes to be throwing before training camp. Newton, who turns 30 on Saturday, still doesn’t have a timetable for when he’ll be cleared, but everything is trending upwards so far.
  • The Cowboys may be preparing for life after Ezekiel Elliott, but Albert Breer of SI.com believes it would be a mistake for Dallas to move on anytime soon. He notes that the Cowboys are built to rely on Elliott, and if they ink him to a big-money deal now, they could spare themselves lengthy and potentially contentious negotiations, and they could still cut ties later on in the contract — once the guaranteed money is gone — if Elliott’s abilities start to fade.
  • The Packers claimed wide receiver Jawill Davis off waivers from the Giants earlier today, and Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that Davis will compete for a return specialist role. Davis appeared in seven games for Big Blue last season, returning 12 punts and seven kickoffs. He also caught four passes for 40 yards.
  • We wrote earlier today that the Buccaneers may be preparing to cut Gerald McCoy.

No Contract Talks Between Bobby Wagner, Seahawks?

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.

Seahawks Trade Frank Clark To Chiefs

On Tuesday, the Seahawks agreed to trade Frank Clark to the Chiefs. When finalized, the deal will send Clark and a third-round choice (No. 84 overall) to the Seahawks for their first-round pick (No. 29), third-round pick (No. 92), and the lower of the Chiefs’ 2020 second-rounders. 

The Seahawks originally cuffed Clark with a franchise tag for 2019, but the defensive end said he was unwilling to play under the terms of the one-year tender. Ultimately, Clark got his way with a massive long-term extension. The Chiefs have agreed to sign Clark to a five-year, $105.5MM deal, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The pact includes $63.5MM guaranteed and gives him a potentially larger total intake than Cowboys standout Demarcus Lawrence. Joel Corry of CBS Sports tweets that the $105.5MM figure is a maximum value, and that the actual contract is a five-year, $104MM pact. The additional $1.5MM stems from $300K incentives that Clark could earn in each year of the deal for posting 11.5 sacks or more.

However, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets that Clark may have been unwilling to ink that same deal with the Seahawks if Seattle had extended it to him. Instead, he was, despite his statements to the contrary, willing to hold out until September and then sign his franchise tender before the regular season started.

In a perfect world, the Seahawks would have liked to keep Clark for the long haul. However, after making Russell Wilson the highest-paid player in NFL history, space was rather limited. But now, as Brady Henderson of ESPN.com tweets, the team can shift its focus to extending Bobby Wagner this offseason, and if the Seahawks can’t get a deal done, they will have enough cap space in 2020 to put the franchise tag on Wagner if it so chooses.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs have made another major change to their defense. After ranking 31st in yards allowed in 2018, they’ve swapped defensive coordinator Bob Sutton for Steve Spagnuolo, moved to a 4-3 scheme, traded Dee Ford, and released Justin Houston and Eric Berry. Now, it’s out with the old and in with the new for KC. The Chiefs have landed one of the game’s best young edge rushers in clark, bringing him to a front seven that also includes new pickups Alex Okafor, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Damien Wilson.

Clark, 26 in June, entered the league as a second-round pick in 2015, but truly broke out as an NFL sophomore with ten sacks in 2016. After a nine-sack effort in 2017, he exploded for 13 sacks last year, his first full season as a starter.

Clearly, the Chiefs are all-in on fixing their defense, but it has come at the expense of draft capital and future flexibility. The Chiefs no longer have a first-round pick for Thursday, nor do they have a ton of wiggle room in future years after locking up Clark through his prime seasons.

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Seahawks Want First-, Second-Round Picks For Frank Clark?

The Chiefs completed a tag-and-trade transaction involving an edge defender last month. The 49ers gave them a 2020 second-round pick for Dee Ford. That type of return will not satisfy the Seahawks regarding Frank Clark.

Linked to having Clark on the trade block, the Seahawks do not plan to let their top pass rusher go for cheap. They are believed to want first- and second-round picks to part with the standout defensive end, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Both the Chiefs and Colts are interested.

While it is not certain if they are willing to meet this asking price, the Chiefs have discussed trading for Clark to replace Ford, Breer adds. Clark has been more consistent than Ford, entering 2019 on the heels of three straight nine-plus-sack seasons. He is two years younger than Ford and at 265 pounds fits Steve Spagnuolo‘s 4-3 scheme better. Clark has also only missed two games in his career. But the matter of his $17.1MM franchise tag and his past complicate matters.

Having already released Kareem Hunt and seeing Tyreek Hill in precarious territory because of an ongoing investigation, the Chiefs trading for Clark would be an interesting decision. Clark was kicked off Michigan’s team because of a domestic violence arrest, which ended up producing a guilty plea for the lesser charge of disorderly conduct. The Chiefs do have the draft capital, with three picks in the first two rounds, and feature a big need at defensive end in what is expected to be Patrick Mahomes‘ final year on a rookie contract.

As for the Seahawks’ financial situation, John Schneider said (via the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta, on Twitter) it would be “feasible but very challenging” to keep Clark, Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed long-term. Wagner and the Seahawks have begun extension talks. A two-year starter at defensive tackle, Reed became extension-eligible this offseason. The franchise just authorized a four-year, $140MM Russell Wilson re-up, further complicating its ability to fortify the defense.

However, if Seattle trades Clark, defensive end becomes a major need. The team already has a deficiency there, given the lack of a reliable edge complement for Clark. But Schneider also indicated he would like the Seahawks — who have traded down in the first round in nearly every draft this decade — to acquire more picks. They hold an NFL-low four now and are without a second-round choice.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Seahawks, Chiefs, Broncos

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Seahawks general manager John Schneider indicated Russell Wilson‘s four-year, $140MM extension won’t impact the status of franchise-tagged defensive end Frank Clark, tweets Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Seattle had already accounted for a new Wilson deal when it decided to tag Clark at a one-year rate of $17.128MM. Schneider also admitted the Seahawks haven’t made a decision on offensive tackle Germain Ifedi‘s fifth-year option for 2020, and singled out linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive tackle Jarran Reed as extension candidates (Twitter links via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com and Condotta).

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Wilson received an NFL-record $65MM signing bonus as part of his new Seahawks contract, but he won’t actually collect all that money immediately. He’ll earn $30MM of the bonus this year with the rest deferred until 2020, per Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (Twitter links), who notes this mechanism is common in most quarterback deals. The deferral won’t affect Wilson’s cap charges, as the $65MM will still be prorated over the next five seasons. Corry adds Wilson received better cash flows on his current extension than on his previous four-year, $87.6MM pact.
  • Authorities have recently removed Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill‘s three-year-old son from Hill and his fiancee’s custody, according to Laura Bauer, Brooke Pryor, and Steve Vockrodt of the Kansas City Star. Hill is under investigation for a pair of incidents involving child abuse, but still showed up for workouts earlier this week. The NFL is expected to allow the investigation to unfold before considering discipline for Hill.
  • Broncos free agent signee Kareem Jackson played safety at Denver’s minicamp this week, reports Mike Klis of 9News. Jackson, who can also play corner, spent time at both positions for the Texans in 2018 before inking a three-year, $33MM deal with the Broncos in March. “[T]here’s more to learn at safety than there is at corner,” said Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. “He’s played much more corner in his career, so I wanted him to get more work in this camp – all of his work – at the safety position, to feel comfortable there.”

Seahawks, Wagner Begin Extension Talks

Entering a contract year, Bobby Wagner has begun negotiations on a third deal with the Seahawks, Pete Carroll said Tuesday (via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com, on Twitter).

This round of negotiations will feature Wagner representing himself, per Henderson. Carroll, whose team jettisoned numerous defensive cornerstones last year, said Wagner is “going to be a Seahawk.”

Wagner signed a four-year, $43MM deal in 2015. At the time, that was the benchmark for inside linebacker accords. But C.J. Mosley‘s new contract changed the market earlier this year, and Wagner has been a more decorated performer than the new Jets linebacker.

While Mosley is a four-time Pro Bowler, Wagner is a four-time first-team All-Pro. Among active off-ball linebackers, only Wagner and Luke Kuechly (five times All-Pro) have been named to more than one All-Pro first team. Three of Wagner’s All-Pro honors have come since he signed his 2015 extension. This will be Wagner’s age-29 season, so he figures to have some prime years remaining.

Given Mosley’s new $17MM-AAV deal — in another stratosphere compared to every other non-rush ‘backer — this process could become quite interesting. Inside linebacker now features one of the biggest gulfs between its highest- and second-highest-paid players (Kuechly is at $12.4MM per year) at a position in modern NFL history. Of course, the Seahawks probably are not eager to pay a pure linebacker $17MM per season. But Mosley’s deal may complicate this process, since Wagner almost certainly will not get to test the market anytime soon.

The Seahawks’ Super Bowls-era secondary has been disbanded; ditto for their defensive line. Linebacker, though, houses multiple veterans from those acclaimed units. Seattle just re-signed K.J. Wright and added Mychal Kendricks, who may or may not be available for the 2019 season due to a possible prison sentence for insider trading. Carroll called the Wagner-Wright-Kendricks trio potentially “the best we’ve had” (Twitter link via Henderson).

Helping a younger Seahawks team to the playoffs, Wagner made 138 tackles in 15 games last season. He registered a career-high 11 passes defensed and returning an interception 98 yards for a touchdown. He graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 off-ball ‘backer in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.