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When All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner remained unsigned more than three weeks after his release from the Seattle Seahawks, the Los Angeles Rams looked like a seizure that made too much sense not to happen.
Consider all the reasons why Wagner and the Rams was a match made in Hollywood:
To begin with, the Rams need to get better at inside linebacker, one of the few lean spots on an otherwise strong defense that helped them win the Super Bowl LVI. They built the championship list by acquiring one big name after another – a necessary approach for a team still trying to build its infant fan base in a city that only cares about stars – and had lost one of them, when Von Miller signed with the Buffalo Bills.
Despite Miller’s departure and some other loss of free agents, the Rams still look like one of the favorites in the NFC and undoubtedly give Wagner his best chance of winning another Super Bowl to go with the one he won in Seattle in 2013. .
They also give him the chance to return home – or at least close to it. Wagner, a wool-colored Los Angeles Lakers fan, grew up about 50 miles east of SoFi Stadium in Ontario, California.
And the Rams give Wagner one more thing that neither the Baltimore Ravens nor the Dallas Cowboys or most other teams that could have been interested in him could have: a chance to stay in the NFC West.
If playing the Seahawks twice a year was not a factor in Wagner choosing the reigning Super Bowl champions, then it’s a good cherry on top of the $ 50 million five-year deal he himself negotiated.
Given the way his time in Seattle ended, it would be naive to believe otherwise.
Wagner felt disrespectful to the way the Seahawks handled his release, which expressed his indignation both on Twitter and private. It remained, even after coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took public blame for their roles in the case, saying Wagner deserved better considering everything he had done for the franchise during his decade in Seattle.
The Seahawks actually told Wagner that he was released before ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news, but Wagner had already heard about the plan. Schneider’s comments suggested that Wagner may have heard the rumble through the course of serving as his own agent, which could complicate team-to-player communication.
Either way, Wagner is ticked off by the Seahawks. And he now gets to meet them twice a year, which adds a unique layer of intrigue to their rivalry with the Rams. Russell Wilson’s return to Lumen Field as a member of the Denver Broncos will not be the only revenge game worth circulating when the 2022 schedule is announced.
Rams gets a very motivated player in addition to a very productive one. The 31-year-old Wagner recorded 170 tackles in 15 games last season – and broke his own franchise record, only to have it beaten again by teammate Jordyn Brooks – before suffering a knee injury in the first game of week 17. They ‘re also getting a player who before that injury had been a model for durability, only missing one other game since the start of the 2016 season.
But the Seahawks moved on from Wagner because they felt he was no longer influencing games enough to justify the $ 16.6 million he was scheduled to earn in the final year of his contract. Although he has not made as many splash plays as he did when he was an annual fixture in the conversation about Defender of the Year, there were some in 2021, such as his firing of Ryan Tannehill in the third-down of Week 2, his tapping of Jimmy Garoppolo in week 14 and his tip of a deep ball against Washington in week 13 that led to a Jamal Adams election.
Wagner gives the Rams a massive upgrade over Troy Reeder, who did not play well enough in 10 starts last season to be offered as a limited free agent. And Wagner gives them a veteran presence in a place that has been staffed by younger players in recent seasons.
“He’s a really special guy,” coach Sean McVay told reporters at the owners’ meetings, according to the Los Angeles Times, before the deal was finalized. “He’s a guy who obviously is [we’re] very familiar with playing him a few [of] times a year and three times in 2020. Just as impressive as I thought when given the opportunity to spend some long periods together. “If we can get it fixed, I’ll be fired.”
Once that was resolved, Wagner posted a mock-up on Instagram of himself posing in a Rams jersey. He mentioned his messy departure from the Seahawks in the caption and wrote that even if “it did not end in a positive way”, his love for Seattle will never change. I have expressed his appreciation of the city, but did not mention the team by name.
“I’m excited to be able to return where it all started and join the LA Rams!” he wrote.
“This is going to be fun for a lot of reasons.”