Bobby Wagner

Latest On Seahawks LBs Jordyn Brooks, Bobby Wagner

The linebacker spot could see plenty of upheaval this offseason in Seattle. Jordyn BrooksBobby Wagner and Devin Bush are each pending free agents, and their chances of being retained vary.

[RELATED: Seahawks Moving Toward Retaining Geno Smith?]

Brooks, 26, is set to see his rookie contract expire since the Seahawks declined his fifth-year option last spring. That move fell in line with those made by other teams in the same position, but it set up the 2023 season as a platform campaign. Brooks delivered another impactful season (111 tackles, a pick-six and a career-high 4.5 sacks). He could soon parlay his production into a new deal.

Michael Shawn-Dugar of The Athletic notes that Brooks wants to re-sign with the Seahawks (subscription required). He adds that the Texas Tech product is a key free agent priority for Seattle and is the likeliest of the LB trio to be retained. Brooks has been a mainstay on defense since becoming a starter, and he led the NFL in solo tackles in 2021. An ACL tear ended his 2022 campaign, but he managed to recover in time for the start of this past season.

Brooks’ play saw an uptick with the return of Wagner following his one-and-done Rams campaign. The latter’s Seattle departure, Shawn-Dugar notes, was driven more by general manager John Schneider than head coach Pete Carroll. With Carroll having shifted to an advisory role, Schneider now has full roster control. Shawn-Dugar thus describes another deal with Wagner as “unlikely.”

The 33-year-old added to his considerable accolades in 2023, earning second-team All-Pro honors and receiving a Pro Bowl invite. He is committed to playing next season, but the Seahawks have a number of decisions to make at the LB position among others. A new deal for defensive lineman Leonard Williams could soon be on the table, and Seattle will be looking to improve its front seven after continuing to struggle against the run.

Wagner led the league in tackles last season, so he would likely be a productive contributor for the Seahawks or another interested team. Seattle is currently slated to be $5.2MM over the cap, though, and teams rarely make lucrative commitments to more than one inside linebacker at a time. If Brooks is indeed seen as a higher priority, then, Wagner could once again find himself on the move in free agency.

Notable 2024 Pro Bowl Incentives

The NFL released the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters last night. While the annual All-Star event has lost some of its luster (and is eyeing a significant revamping in 2024), a Pro Bowl selection is still a significant accomplishment for many players…especially from a financial standpoint.

There were a number of Pro Bowlers whose selections were tied to contract incentives. We’ve collected some of the notable Pro Bowl incentives below:

Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick didn’t have a traditional Pro Bowl incentive, but his selection will still result in more money. Per Corry, Reddick’s 2024 base salary will increase by $500K (from $13.75MM to $14.25MM) thanks to the Pro Bowl selection.

A handful of former first-round picks also boosted the value of their fifth-year options by earning their first Pro Bowl nod (via Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus): Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton, Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Ravens offensive lineman Tyler Linderbaum, Lions offensive lineman Penei Sewell, and Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon. Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner and Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain boosted the value of their fifth-round option to the maximum amount with a second Pro Bowl selection.

Beyond incentives, players also get some cash for just participating in the Pro Bowl event. As Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports writes, players on the winning team will earn $88K, while players on the losing team will get $44K. This even applies to Pro Bowl players who can’t participate since they’re playing in the Super Bowl.

Bobby Wagner Intends To Play In 2024; Seahawks Interested In New Deal

With the Seahawks in danger of missing the playoffs, Week 18 could represent the team’s final game this season. As a result, questions have been asked with respect to linebacker Bobby Wagner‘s future.

The 33-year-old departed Seattle last year to join his hometown Rams. He asked for and was granted his release following a disappointing campaign from the team, however, making him a free agent once again. Wagner rejoined the Seahawks in March, inking a one-year deal with a base value of $5.5MM. By being named a Pro Bowler this year, he has added $750K to his earnings.

The six-time All-Pro has delivered another productive campaign in his second stint in Seattle. Wagner sits second in the league in tackles (168), and he has a strong chance of setting a new career high in that department in Week 18. He has added 3.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery while playing 1,100 snaps for the third time in his career.

When speaking publicly on his future, Wagner said (via ESPN’s Brady Henderson) that he is “one hundred percent” planning on playing next season. That comes as little surprise given his continued high level of play this year and the market he could command as a free agent on another short-term deal in particular. The 2010s All-Decade member added that he was not considering his future beyond 2023 when signing his latest Seahawks deal, and it remains to be seen if he and the team will be able to reach another agreement this offseason.

However, head coach Pete Carroll made it clear the Seahawks “would love to have” Wagner back for the 2024 campaign. The latter has played 167 of his 184 career games with Seattle and his continued production could help maintain stability at the second level of the team’s defense. Former first-rounder Jordyn Brooks is a pending free agent due to the Seahawks’ decision last spring to decline his fifth-year option, and free agent addition Devin Bush (attached to a one-year deal) is also set to hit the open market in March.

While plenty is therefore uncertain at the LB spot in Seattle in the near future, Wagner could very well be in the team’s offseason plans. It will be interesting to see if a mutual interest exists between player and team in the spring to continue their storied relationship even further.

Bobby Wagner Aiming To Play Beyond 2023; Seahawks Planning To Reduce LB’s Workload

Becoming a lock Hall of Famer during his first Seahawks stint, Bobby Wagner finished his one-and-done Rams stay as a second-team All-Pro. Wagner has earned first- or second-team All-Pro honors in nine straight seasons. Even as the decorated linebacker enters his age-33 season, he looks to be a major addition for a Seahawks team that lost Cody Barton in free agency.

Wagner is back in Seattle on a one-year deal worth $5.5MM. Pro Football Focus’ top-graded 2022 linebacker joins ex-Steeler Devin Bush as additions the Seahawks made on their defensive second level this offseason. While the 2012 second-round pick is only committed to the team for one more season, he said (via the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta) the goal will be to play beyond 2023.

The 10-year Seahawks starter acknowledged he is on a year-to-year arrangement at this point in his career, but as of now, retirement is not the plan for 2024. This could be significant for the Seahawks, given Wagner’s 2022 form. He finished with 140 tackles — down from his 170-tackle surge in 2021 — but a career-high six sacks, showing intriguing form in Los Angeles’ 3-4 scheme. Wagner, who patrolled the middle of a 4-3 Seattle look throughout his first Seahawks stint, will step into DC Clint Hurtt‘s 3-4 setup soon.

As for the Hawks’ plans regarding Wagner’s usage, ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson notes Pete Carroll and John Schneider have hinted at a reduced workload compared to his ironman snap rate during his first Seattle run. Wagner hardly left the field during his initial Seahawks tenure, playing no fewer than 93% of the team’s defensive snaps from 2013-21. For a Rams team that lost numerous starters to injury last season, Wagner was on the field for 99% of the team’s defensive plays.

Given Wagner’s age, it makes sense for the Seahawks to attempt a conservation effort. He has logged more than 1,000 defensive snaps in six of the past seven seasons, topping 1,100 in 2020 and ’21. That said, Condotta adds Wagner will likely begin the season wearing the green dot — signifying headset communication — due to his experience and Jordyn BrooksJanuary ACL tear. Wagner is certainly an ideal player for that role, and it is possible he plays a higher snap percentage early in the season — as Brooks finishes up his rehab effort — than he does down the stretch. But planning to take Wagner off the field and actually doing so will be different matters for the Seahawks, who have seen few players contribute as much to their cause in team history.

Brooks, who is going into his fourth season, did not undergo ACL surgery until late January. He will be a candidate to begin the season on the reserve/PUP list, which would sideline the former first-round pick for at least four games to begin the campaign. Wagner represents an ideal option to hold down the fort until his former sidekick returns. Once that happens, the Wagner-Brooks duo the team deployed at linebacker in 2021 will likely reform.

Seahawks, Bobby Wagner Agree To Deal

MARCH 30: More details are in on the contract bringing Wagner back to Seattle. Of the $7MM in maximum value, $5.5MM is guaranteed in full across a base salary, signing bonus and roster bonus, per Sirius XM’s Howard Balzer (Twitter link). That leaves a modest amount of added value available through incentives for the future Hall of Famer as he looks to pick up where he left off in Seattle on a far smaller contract than the one he inked last offseason.

MARCH 25: One year after linebacker Bobby Wagner departed the Seahawks, he is now set to return to his original NFL home. Seattle is reuniting with Wagner on a one-year, $7MM deal (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of NFL Network).

The 32-year-old spent the first 10 years of his career in the Emerald City, establishing himself as a franchise icon along the way. A key member of the ‘Legion of Boom,’ Wagner was at the heart of the team’s defensive success and consecutive Super Bowl appearances. Now, he will rejoin his original team after a short-lived excursion within the NFC West.

Wagner had his latest Seahawks extension terminated last offseason, which opened the door to him departing in free agency. He elected to join his hometown Rams on a five-year, $50MM deal in the hopes of helping the veteran-leaden team repeat as champions. Nothing went according to plan in Los Angeles in 2022, however, and they have now turned their attention to clearing many of their burdensome contracts. That included granting Wagner’s request to be released at the start of the new league year.

That move immediately led to speculation that a Seattle return could be in the cards. Both GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll spoke with Wagner earlier this month to discuss a potential deal, though the Seahawks had a number of other moves planned to augment their defense. That included the signing of former Steelers first-rounder Devin Bush on a prove-it deal, one which gave the team a starting-caliber option but in no way precluded them from luring Wagner back. This deal for the latter marks another notable defensive addition for Seattle.

The Seahawks have added defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones and safety Julian Love in free agency, giving all three levels of their defense an upgrade when combined with this Wagner reunion. The latter will once again be able to team with 2020 first-rounder Jordyn Brooks, who has filled the statsheet over the past two seasons after becoming a full-time starter at the LB position. Given Wagner’s production last season, a repeat of his peak performances may not be out of the question.

The 2010s All-Decade team member was one of a few key players able to remain healthy for the Rams in 2022, and he proved to be a valuable member of the team’s defense. Wagner totaled 140 tackles, six sacks and a pair of interceptions in his lone Los Angeles campaign. On what should be a substantially improved Seahawks defense, he will be well-situated to post another highly productive season in 2023.

A text from Wagner confirms that he is “happy to be back” (Twitter link via Pelissero’s colleague Ian Rapoport). His return should set the Seahawks up for a significant step forward in terms of their run defense in particular, after they ranked 30th in the league in yards allowed on the ground in 2022. Presuming the unit improves, a repeat of their playoff appearance from last year would come as little surprise, something which would give Wagner the opportunity to add even further to his legacy in Seattle.

Seahawks, LB Devin Bush Agree To Deal; Team Still In Play For Bobby Wagner?

MARCH 22: Bush’s one-year deal is worth $3.5MM, per ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson (on Twitter). The former top-10 pick will receive the bulk of the money ($2.99MM) guaranteed.

MARCH 17: The Seahawks hosted a few players on free agency visits Thursday. Devin Bush stood out to the team, and the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta reports the veteran linebacker agreed to a deal.

A former top-10 Steelers draftee, Bush joined Julian Love and Lonnie Johnson on Seattle visits. GM John Schneider had recently said the inside linebacker position was an area of concern for the team, and Bush will be en route to help address it. This late-night agreement is a one-year pact, per Condotta.

Although Bush started 48 games during his Steelers rookie-contract years, this agreement will double as a flier. Pittsburgh reduced the former No. 10 overall pick’s playing time last season and revamped its inside linebacker group this week. Bush will also join a team that has seen some movement at the position. Seahawks 2022 starter Cody Barton signed with the Commanders.

The Steelers held high hopes for Bush. They traded up 10 spots with the Broncos, who drafted current Seahawks tight end Noah Fant at No. 20, in 2019. That move marked the first time Pittsburgh had moved up in Round 1 since selecting Troy Polamalu in 2003. Bush racked up stats as a rookie (109 tackles, nine TFLs, two INTs, four fumbles recoveries) but saw a 2020 ACL tear blunt his momentum. Over the past two years, the Michigan product ended up playing his way out of Pittsburgh.

Pro Football Focus graded Bush as a bottom-tier linebacker in 2021, as he struggled to return to form. While the advanced metrics site ranked the young defender just outside the top 50 at linebacker last season, the Steelers used him on career-low 62% of their defensive snaps. The team did not pick up Bush’s fifth-year option in 2022, sending him to this year’s market.

But Bush, he of a 4.43-second 40-yard dash time back in 2019, does not turn 25 until this summer and could become an important cog for the 2023 Seahawks. Barton is gone, and top linebacker Jordyn Brooks is recovering from an ACL tear sustained in January. The former first-round pick will be a candidate to the start the season on the reserve/PUP list.

The Seahawks have also been linked to a reunion with Bobby Wagner. The recent Rams cap casualty should still be expected to reside on the radar for a Seattle return, Condotta adds. Schneider and Pete Carroll have spoken with Wagner about a possible return, despite the team releasing him on the same day it traded Russell Wilson last year. Wagner asked for his Rams release, seeking to join a team in better position to contend in 2023. Despite the NFC West rivals’ statuses going into last season, the Seahawks suddenly look to be in a better contention spot. If Brooks is not back to start the season, the Seahawks will almost definitely need to make another starter-level linebacker addition.

Cowboys To Re-Sign Leighton Vander Esch

The Cowboys have brought back Donovan Wilson and agreed to acquire Stephon Gilmore from the Colts. They have not forgotten about Leighton Vander Esch, it appears.

Dallas is close to re-signing the former first-round pick, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets, and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports a deal is expected. Vander Esch and the Cowboys are on the verge of completing a two-year, $11MM agreement, Rapoport adds (Twitter link). The first year will be guaranteed, Jane Slater of ESPN.com tweets.

This marks one of a few off-ball linebacker deals to commence Tuesday. While Dallas has been connected to Bobby Wagner for a second straight offseason, the team liked what it saw from Vander Esch in 2022. This contract matches the deal the Dolphins gave David Long on Monday. Wagner is unlikely to be in the picture any longer, per Slater, now that Vander Esch has agreed to terms (Twitter link).

The Steelers and Texans also pursued Vander Esch, Slater adds (on Twitter). But the Cowboys are bringing back the former Pro Bowler for a sixth season. They will give him a raise to return; the Boise State product signed for just $2MM in 2022.

Although Vander Esch has not matched his rookie-year form, as injuries intervened early in his career, he is still just 27 and should have some prime seasons remaining. Pro Football Focus viewed Vander Esch as a top-12 coverage linebacker last season. The 749 defensive snaps LVE logged were the most since his standout rookie season. He reached that total despite missing three games. Vander Esch totaled 90 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble during his 14-game run, and he added two pass deflections in Dallas’ blowout playoff win in Tampa.

The Buccaneers performance may well have helped Vander Esch secure this contract, as he came back after a shoulder injury sidelined him for the final three regular-season games. Concerns about Vander Esch’s past with neck injuries resurfaced, but this Cowboys agreement shows the team remains confident in his availability going forward.

The Cowboys have used Micah Parsons more as an edge rusher, leaving more snaps available at linebacker. The team also rosters Damone Clark and Jabril Cox but lost Luke Gifford to the Titans on Tuesday. Anthony Barr is also a free agent, after having signed a one-year deal last summer.

Cowboys Eyeing Bobby Wagner, Want To Bring Back Dante Fowler Jr.

The Cowboys continued to pursue some big names on the defensive side of the ball. Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News reports (via Twitter) that the organization has talked to linebacker Bobby Wagner. Meanwhile, Josina Anderson tweets that the Cowboys “still have to get an agreement to the finish line” with defensive end Dante Fowler Jr..

As Watkins notes, the Cowboys are continuing to monitor the market before making a definitive move on Wagner, but it sounds like the organization definitely has interest in bringing in the veteran. The former Seahawks star spent the 2022 season with the Rams, appearing in all 17 games. While his eight-season Pro Bowl streak came to an end, the 32-year-old was still plenty productive, finishing with 140 tackles and a career-high six sacks.

Fowler spent the 2022 season in Dallas, and while he mostly served in a situational role, he proved to be plenty effective. The former third-overall pick finished the year with six sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in 17 games. Pro Football Focus wasn’t particularly fond of his performance, ranking him 82nd among 120 qualifying edge rushers, although the site did give him solid grades for pass rush and coverage.

Per Anderson (on Twitter), the Cowboys are working hard to sign Fowler to a new deal and “want him back” next season. There’s also a belief that the player “wants to be back” in Dallas next year. Fowler is one of several notable Cowboys defensive free agents, with the list headlined by linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and safety Donovan Wilson.

LB Rumors: Wagner, David, Bills, Al-Shaair

The Seahawks may be interested in bringing back Bobby Wagner. John Schneider and Pete Carroll spoke with the future Hall of Fame linebacker recently, according to the GM. Schneider said (via the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta) the team will keep in contact with Wagner during his free agency. The Seahawks shed Wagner’s pricey deal from their payroll last year, but with the decorated ex-Seattle defender not in position to command a lucrative long-term deal ahead of his age-33 season, a reunion would make a bit more sense. The team has also rebounded quicker than most expected post-Wagner and Russell Wilson, reaching the playoffs. Wagner is believed to be eyeing a contender, having asked for his Rams release. Pro Football Focus rated Wagner as the NFL’s top off-ball linebacker last season, which was also Wagner’s ninth straight first- or second-team All-Pro campaign.

Here is the latest from the league’s linebacker scene:

  • Wagner and Lavonte David will both be available on the market. David is not planning to re-sign with the Buccaneers ahead of free agency, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. If Tampa Bay wants its 10-year starter back, it will need to outbid others to secure such a deal. The Bucs managed to bring back David (and every other in-house free agent of consequence) in 2021, agreeing to a two-year deal. After the standout defender played out that contract, he joins Wagner in being a UFA linebacker ahead of an age-33 season. The Bucs remain in the league’s worst cap shape, so they will have a tough time bringing back David, who stands to command another short-term accord.
  • 49ers linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair will have a clear connection to the Texans, with DeMeco Ryans now their head coach. The Texans also hired ex-49ers assistant Chris Kiffin as their linebackers coach. Kiffin is a big fan of Al-Shaair, per The Athletic’s Matt Barrows, who notes Ryans is probably quite high on the free agent-to-be as well (subscription required). The 49ers have Fred Warner locked into a top-market contract and inked Dre Greenlaw to a midlevel extension last year. They are bracing to lose Al-Shaair, who figures to generate interest from the Ryans-led team.
  • Bills GM Brandon Beane said the team has discussed a new deal with Tremaine Edmunds, the biggest fish in a deep off-ball linebacker pond this year. But Edmunds’ comments last month still point to him reaching free agency to listen to other teams’ offers. Although this is a crowded market, Edmunds should still expect to do well in his first free agency foray.
  • The FalconsLorenzo Carter two-year deal carries a base value of $9MM, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The ex-Giant will earn $5.25MM guaranteed on his second Falcons contract, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com adds (via Twitter). He will carry a $5.25MM cap hit in 2023, and Yates adds an additional $1MM will be available via incentives.

Rams To Part Ways With Bobby Wagner

As cost-cutting season begins to take shape around the NFL, a major name on the defensive side of the ball is set to hit the open market. The Rams are mutually parting ways with linebacker Bobby Wagner, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link).

The 32-year-old was one of the more sought-after veterans last offseason after his storied Seahawks tenure came to an end. He stayed in the NFC West, inking a five-year, $50MM deal. That allowed the future Hall of Famer to head home, though the possibility of a move such as this one remained given the structure of the deal. It came out not long after Wagner signed the Rams pact that the agreement was essentially for two seasons in terms of guarantees, and gave him the option of voiding the final three years.

Wagner was an every-down starter for the Rams this season, logging over 1,000 snaps for the fourth straight campaign. His production (including 140 tackles, six sacks and five pass deflections) earned him second team All-Pro honors. He was also PFF’s highest-graded middle linebacker, a testament to his value even in the waning stages of his career. Wagner will once again find himself amongst the league’s top free agents next month.

Mike Garafolo tweets that this move will not become official until the new league year begins in March. Five days after that point, the contract would have seen Wagner’s 2023 salary of $7.5MM (along with a $2.5MM roster bonus in 2024) become fully guaranteed. He did not waive that clause, per Schefter (Twitter link). Nevertheless, this will save the Rams considerable cap space for each of the next four seasons, including $5MM in 2023.

That figure will be counterbalanced by a dead cap hit of $7.5MM for this season, presuming Wagner’s guarantee remains in place as scheduled. His cap hit was set to spike to $12.5MM in 2023, and remain around that level through the 2026 campaign. Los Angeles will thus save much-needed space as they look to rebound from a disastrous Super Bowl title defense which saw much of the team’s veteran nucleus (including Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald) end the season on the sidelines through injuries. Each of that trio is under contract after signing new deals last offseason, so Wagner represents a more logical release candidate for cost-cutting purposes.

Los Angeles entered today roughly $15MM over the cap, so they will still have work to do in advance of free agency. That period will be an interesting one from their perspective, but also that of Wagner, who received serious interest from the Ravens before choosing to sign with the Rams. Baltimore made a midseason splash at the trade deadline, acquiring Roquan Smith from the Bears and subsequently signing him to an historic extension. Their massive commitment to Smith – along with the presence of former first-rounder Patrick Queen – would make a second pursuit on the Ravens’ part highly unlikely.

No shortage of other teams will be willing to sign the nine-time Pro Bowler, though. A short-term pact with an appropriate amount of guarantees would allow him to fulfil his reported desire of landing on a contender, something the Rams may struggle to re-establish themselves as (even with head coach Sean McVay remaining) barring much better luck on the health front. Los Angeles will move forward with Ernest Jones still in place in the middle of their defense, but a lack of established players alongside him currently under contract. Wagener, meanwhile, will begin assessing his options on the open market.