Bobby Wagner

West Rumors: 49ers, Seahawks, Broncos

It’s been a long offseason for the 49ers, who have seen numerous key players deal with injuries throughout the spring and summer. Add more to the list of San Francisco talents set to miss the preseason. Jerick McKinnon and Weston Richburg are both unlikely to play until Week 1. Given $18MM guaranteed, McKinnon is still dealing with knee trouble after missing all of last season with an ACL tear. The sixth-year running back received a platelet-rich plasma injection on his knee and is expected to miss the 49ers’ August slate, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com notes. The team activated him from the PUP list Tuesday, but Kyle Shanahan said his prized 2018 offseason signing experienced significant soreness after going through individual drills the past two days. Richburg, who remains on the active/PUP list after a January knee surgery, is being targeted a Week 1 return. So are Nick Bosa and Jason Verrett. The 49ers hope Dee Ford, who received a PRP injection on his injured knee, can play by the team’s dress-rehearsal preseason game.

Here’s the latest West news from outside of San Francisco:

  • With the Seahawks in desperate need of available pass rushers come Week 1, more blitz opportunities may be on tap. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks (should he be on the field) are in position to be used more as rushers. “If we can play really good D, it’s going to be because of Bobby and K.J. and Mychal and the guys in the linebacker spot. We’re going to utilize them as much as we can to be a factor in all aspects, run and pass [defense],” Pete Carroll said, via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson. “Those guys are really good pass defenders, and they love coming off the edge too. We’ll plan on using those guys a lot.” After Frank Clark‘s departure, the Seahawks have Ziggy Ansah and L.J. Collier injured. Jarran Reed incurred a six-game suspension. Wright has not collected a sack since 2016, when he had four. Wagner had 4.5 that year but recorded 2.5 since.
  • Theo Riddick will earn a $2MM 2019 base salary with the Broncos, and $750K of it is fully guaranteed, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. Another $250K will be available in per-game roster bonuses. Overall, Riddick signed for $2.5MM with $1MM guaranteed. This makes it a near-certainty Riddick will appear on the Broncos’ 53-man roster in September.
  • The Broncos are already down Todd Davis for multiple weeks; they will be without one of his top backups for longer than that. Joe Jones suffered a triceps injury this week, and a second opinion delivered more clarity on the inside linebacker’s timeline. Jones will be out between six and eight weeks, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. But he will not need surgery, which could increase his chances of making the Broncos. If Jones hits IR before the Broncos finalize their 53-man unit, the special-teamer will be ineligible to return for them this season.
  • Returning 2018 fifth-round pick Johnny Townsend would seemingly be in line to keep his job as the Raiders‘ punter, but Jon Gruden said rookie UDFA A.J. Cole has put himself in the conversation to unseat the incumbent, per Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (on Twitter). Cole would be an option to handle Raiders kickoffs as well.

Injury Notes: Wagner, Sheard, Cardinals

There’s some relatively good news on the injury front out of Denver. Mike Klis of 9News in Denver tweets that Broncos special teams ace Joe Jones won’t need surgery for a partially torn tricep. Still, the injury will keep the 25-year-old off the field for several weeks. Jones suffered the injury during his team’s preseason victory over the Falcons.

While Jones is known for his special teams prowess, the team could have used him for preseason linebacker depth. As The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala points out on TwitterTodd Davis is currently sidelined with a calf injury, and teammate Josey Jewell got examined today after he “tweaked his side.”

As a result of all the injuries, the team’s current depth at inside linebacker is down to four players: Alexander Johnson, Keishawn Bierria, Josh Watson and Joe Dineen.

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

  • Seahawks coach Pete Carroll seemed to imply that Bobby Wagner had undergone some kind of procedure, as ESPN’s Brady Henderson writes. Carroll told reporters that the linebacker is “going to get a little break here just to get right,” although he didn’t specify where on the body the treatment took place. Wagner apparently had the procedure completed now so he could make it back to the field by the end of the preseason. The 29-year-old inked a three-year, $54MM deal early in training camp.
  • Colts defensive end Jabaal Sheard recently underwent a knee procedure that will keep him out indefinitely, writes Mike Chappell of CBS 4 in Indy. The 30-year-old was seen at the first day of practice in late July, but swelling in his knee has sidelined him since. Sheard started all 32 games for the Colts over the past two seasons, including a 2018 campaign where he had 50 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Al-Quadin Muhammad will take on a bigger role with Sheard on the shelf.
  • Cardinals right tackle Marcus Gilbert left today’s practice with an injury, tweets ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss. This further depleted the team’s offensive line corps, as left guard Justin Pugh and left tackle D.J. Humphries are both out of practice. Korey Cunningham and Rees Odhiambo have slid up the depth chart for the time being.

NFC West Notes: Rams, McVay, Seahawks

The Rams recently extended both head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead through the 2023 season, and Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com reports club owner Stan Kroenke was the “driving force” behind the dual deals. McVay was set to enter the upcoming campaign as one of the lowest-paid head coaches in the NFL, and — given the youthful coach’s success — Kroenke wanted to reward him. Additionally, Kroenke wanted McVay and Snead’s contract to align and run through the same season, per Breer. It’s unclear exactly how far into the future Snead had previously been under contract, but it was for fewer than the three years McVay had remaining.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • Bobby Wagner became the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL under the terms of his new extension, and we now have some more details on the Seahawks star’s pact. Wagner’s three-year, $54MM deal will allow him to collect $24.5MM in 2019 instead of the $11.5MM he was due this year on his previous deal, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. Additionally, Wagner will secure rolling injury guarantees of $10.75MM in 2020 and $5MM in 2021 that change to full guarantees on the fifth day of that season’s waiver period. Former agent and current CBSSports.com contributor Joel Corry broke down the deal, which Wagner negotiated himself.
  • The Seahawks will work out running backs Chris Warren and Brian Wallace this week, per Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). As Henderson notes, Warren’s father made three Pro Bowls as a Seattle running back from 1990-97. The younger Warren posted an excellent 2018 preseason but missed the entire regular season after suffering a knee injury. He was waived by the Raiders this week after struggling with conditioning issues.
  • In case you missed it, the Rams gave wideout Robert Woods a raise for the 2019 season. In a rare NFL occurrence, Los Angeles handed Woods an extra $1MM in base salary and a new $2MM roster bonus with no strings attached.

Seahawks Extend LB Bobby Wagner

The Seahawks have locked up one of the best defensive players in football. Seattle is signing linebacker Bobby Wagner to a three-year extension worth $54MM, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

In a follow-up tweet, Rapoport notes that Wagner will get $40.2MM in guaranteed money. At $18MM annually, Wagner is now the highest-paid inside linebacker in the game, eclipsing the $17MM that C.J. Mosley got from the Jets earlier this offseason. Wagner made it clear a few days ago he would attend training camp on time even though he didn’t have the new deal he wanted yet, as he wanted to be a good leader and locker room presence.

Wagner has been standing off to the side and observing practice at the first few days of camp, clearly waiting for this deal to get done. The Utah State product had been set to enter the final year of a four-year, $43MM extension he signed back in 2015. There’s now a huge gap between Wagner and Mosley at the top and the rest of the inside linebackers. Deion Jones is in third place with the extension he recently signed with the Falcons, which will pay him a tick over $14MM annually.

Wagner originally entered the league as a second-round pick back in 2012. He’s since firmly established himself as the league’s best off-ball linebacker, making the Pro Bowl in each of the last five seasons and being named a first-team All-Pro in each of the last three. One of the last remaining pieces of the Seahawks’ Super Bowl winning defense, Wagner is the team’s next most important player after Russell Wilson. He’s been a rock for them, starting at least 15 games in each of the past four seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Rumors: Seahawks, Broncos, Brock

As he did during minicamp, Bobby Wagner attended Seahawks practice but merely as an observer. Pete Carroll confirmed (via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson) the Seahawks and their four-time All-Pro linebacker are discussing an extension but did not elaborate on where the sides are in the process. Longtime Wagner linebacker sidekick K.J. Wright believes a deal is imminent, however. Any extension would probably have to make Wagner the highest-paid off-ball linebacker, and while Deion Jones‘ recent Falcons re-up bridged the gap between C.J. Mosley‘s $17MM-AAV pact and the field, the Jets linebacker still makes over $2.5MM per year more than any other traditional ‘backer. Wagner has confirmed he wants to exceed Mosley’s deal, and this may lead to the eighth-year standout continuing his hold-in strategy.

Shifting first to a former Seahawk who took a different contract-seeking approach last year, here is the latest from out west:

  • Earl Thomas skipped all Seahawks activities before making a pre-Week 1 return last year. Now with the Ravens, Thomas said (via ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson, video link) Carroll communicated to him the week of his season-ending injury indicating an interest in working out a long-term deal. The reason Thomas then flipped off Carroll as he was being carted away? The three-time All-Pro did not believe Carroll was being honest with him. He and Carroll have not spoken since. The Seahawks were not linked to a potential Thomas reunion this offseason.
  • John Elway praised Joe Flacco throughout the Broncos‘ offseason program. One of the reasons why Elway targeted him was a belief the Ravens did not surround him with enough talent or a good system, after Gary Kubiak left his OC post to become Broncos HC in 2015, during his latter years in Baltimore. New Denver OC Rich Scangarello‘s system is derived from Kubiak’s. “To me, he hasn’t had a great system and he hasn’t had great people around him,” Elway said, via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala (subscription required). “So he can have success when you have people around him and he’s in the right system, which I think he is because this is the system he’s had success in.” The Broncos, who relied heavily on Emmanuel Sanders and Phillip Lindsay last season before their year-ending injuries, are banking on second-year wideouts Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton making strides in Year 2.
  • While Mike Munchak lost out to Vic Fangio in the pursuit of Denver’s HC job, the Broncos’ offensive line coach has seen his role quickly expand. Munchak now has influence over the Broncos’ passing game and rushing attack, Jhabvala notes. Munchak worked as the Steelers’ O-line coach the past five seasons — each ending with a Pittsburgh top-10 offensive ranking.
  • The Cardinals are focusing Tramaine Brock on a role as a slot cornerback, Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com notes. Brock mostly played outside under Vance Joseph last season, prior to Chris Harris‘ season-ending injury. On the outside, second-round pick Byron Murphy and second-year corner Chris Jones are the top candidates vying to play opposite Robert Alford. This arrangement looks like the plan until Patrick Peterson returns from his six-game suspension.

Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner To Report To Camp

Seahawks star linebacker Bobby Wagner is expected to show up for training camp on Wednesday, sources tell NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Wagner doesn’t have a new deal in hand yet, but Rapoport hears that he wants to continue to be a leader in the locker room and set an example. 

[RELATED: Extension Candidate – Bobby Wagner]

Wagner might take the cautious approach and avoid putting himself in harm’s way, Rapoport hears, but he’ll be there with his teammates. Ultimately, it’s believed that the two sides will come to an accord before the season gets underway in September.

Wagner is likely looking to top the $17MM payout that C.J. Mosley landed from the Jets in free agency, which is understandable. Mosley is a good player in his own right, but Wagner is a five-time Pro Bowler, four-time First Team All-Pro, and a bonafide tackling machine.

Interestingly, Wagner is representing himself as he guns for his next big payday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: 49ers, N. Bosa, Wagner, Benson

The 49ers have not had a high draft pick hold out of training camp since the new CBA and its rookie wage scale were instituted in 2011. However, the club’s top two 2019 draft choices, No. 2 overall pick Nick Bosa and No. 36 overall pick Deebo Samuel, have yet to sign their rookie deals. Cam Inman of the Mercury News believes that both players will be under contract by the time camp opens on Friday, but it seems that the club’s history, rather than any specific information on Bosa or Samuel, is the primary reason for that belief.

Now for more from the league’s west divisions:

  • In the same piece linked above, Inman says that new 49ers acquisitions Kwon Alexander and Jason Verrett — along with every other member of the roster — should be cleared for action when camp opens, though San Francisco may ease them back into action. Inman also suggests that the backup QB competition between Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard will be a close one.
  • This doesn’t come as much of a surprise given earlier reports that new Seahawks defensive end Ezekiel Ansah could miss at least the first month of the regular season, but Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes that Ansah is expected to open training camp on the PUP list. It remains to be seen if Ansah will, in fact, miss any regular season action, though Condotta says there should be more clarity on that front this week.
  • Condotta also believes that Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner will get an extension before the season begins, and it could happen as soon as this week.
  • We have taken several looks at the Broncos‘ WR corps over the past week or so, and UDFA Trinity Benson‘s name keeps cropping up. As Mike Klis of 9News.com writes, Benson took reps with the first-team offense Saturday and caught several passes from Joe Flacco. New head coach Vic Fangio said he will continue to put his unproven players on the field with the presumptive starters, and it seems that Benson has acquitted himself nicely thus far. The fact that he served as a kickoff and punt returner in college will only help his cause.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.