This post contains affiliate links. “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
SEATTLE – The Seahawks officially released All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner on Wednesday.
“This is an extremely difficult day for the organization,” General Manager John Schneider said in a statement. “Bobby has been at the center of our defense for the last 10 seasons and always represented our organization with class. He is a special player and person and we are eternally grateful. Bobby will always be a Hawk.”
Wagner thanked the franchise in a tweetwrites that Seattle “will forever be my home.”
The news comes a day after ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s report that the Seahawks have agreed to swap quarterback Russell Wilson for the Denver Broncos. The two franchise cornerstones, named the same day in 2012, are now leaving Seattle the same day 10 years later.
By releasing Wagner, the Seahawks move on from their longtime defensive captain and another player who was among the most influential in franchise history.
“Bobby is one of the great Seahawks of all time. His leadership in the community, the locker room and on the field is a tribute to his character and consistency. Bobby set an incredible example for everyone to follow and we will continue to follow him throughout. the way to the Hall of Fame, “coach Pete Carroll said in a statement.
The move will save the Seahawks $ 16.6 million in cash and salary caps, leaving a big gap in the middle of their defenses. And that comes as no surprise given Wagner’s contract, age (he turns 32 in June) and the non-committal comments Carroll and Schneider made at last week’s NFL scouting.
Wagner himself wondered aloud about his future as the Seahawks were about to end a disappointing 7-10 season that led to several changes in Carroll’s coaching staff. Among them was the firing of defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., Wagner’s former position coach and one of his strongest supporters in the organization.
It is not clear whether a return to Seattle on a cheaper deal is at stake.
So far, only defensive end Benson Mayowa – who left Seattle and returned in 2020 – remains from the Seahawks team in 2013 that won the Super Bowl XLVIII. Wagner, selected along with Wilson on the second day of the 2012 draft, was the last remaining member of the star-studded defense that led Seattle to its lone World Cup and a return trip to the Super Bowl XLIX after the 2014 season.
Wagner becomes a free agent for the first time in his career. It comes with an interesting twist as he continues to serve as his own agent, which he did when he negotiated his $ 54 million three-year extension in the summer of 2019. The mega deal set a record for off-the-ball linebackers at. $ 18 million per season and served as perhaps the best success story for a high-profile NFL player handling his own contract negotiations.
Two and a half years later, that contract has helped lead to his release.
Wagner, the Seahawks’ all-time tackle leader, entered the final year of the deal with a non-guaranteed $ 16.35 million base salary and an additional $ 250,000 available in per-game roster bonuses. His $ 20.35 million cap charge was an unmanageable figure, even with the Seahawks in OK cap form – and even with Wagner coming after a 170-tackle season that gave him his eighth Pro Bowl nod in 10 seasons.
Wagner posted the personal record despite missing all but one snap in the last two fights with a knee sprain; Carroll said it would not require surgery.
Asked about Wagner last week in Indianapolis, Carroll gave a conflicting answer that ultimately reinforced the uncertainty about whether he would be back in 2022.
“We expect to play with Bobby,” Carroll said. “We love playing with Bobby. He’s been a great player, had another great season. At this time of year, there are a lot of guys who are in a position where we have to figure out where everyone fits. Bobby has been such a regular part of it and we would love to be able to play with him so we will work towards that.
Wagner’s release leaves $ 3.75 million in dead money.
The most logical in-house candidate to replace Wagner is Cody Barton, a 2019 third-round pick who has made five starts in three seasons. Barton started in week 18 after Wagner hurt his knee in the opening game the week before when his foot slipped as he tried to plant it on the wet lawn at Lumen Fiend.
Prior to his injury, Wagner had not missed a single snap in 2021. His 170 tackles that went into Week 17 led the NFL and had broken his own single-season franchise record from 2016. Teammate Jordyn Brooks (184) broke the record in Week 18 with Wagner on the sideline.
Although Wagner did not play as many strokes as in some of his best seasons, he recorded an interception, a sack, a forced fumble and five passes defended in 2021 on his way to a second-team All-Pro pick.
In 2020, Wagner was one of 22 defenders named by the Pro Football Hall of Fame to the All-Decade Team for the 2010s. His Hall of Fame-worthy resume also includes six first-team All-Pro picks, two second-team All-Pro selections and eight Pro Bowls nods, which ranks second most in franchise history.
After the team’s count, Wagner’s 1,381 career tackles top the franchise’s all-time list with nearly 400. He leads the NFL in tackles by more than 150 since the Seahawks hit him in the second round out of Utah State in 2012.
In late December, Wagner responded in the affirmative when asked if he was wondering about his future in Seattle.
“You’re thinking about it,” he said. “You think about what next year looks like and what the future holds, because this was a season that I do not think we all had planned. We had not planned for the season to go this way, so “It’s clear there will be some changes, and whether I’m part of those changes or not, I do not know.”
At the same press conference, Wagner made it clear that he was not considering retiring. A week later, he struck a more hopeful tune about staying with the Seahawks.
“I understand there is a business side to this, but there is a lot of optimism in my end that I will return,” Wagner said in early January. “So I’m not worried about it. Of course I can not control everything. I can only control my part. And my part of this is that I feel I love this city. I love this team. I love Seahawks.So I always wanted to be a part of a franchise’s good and bad times and every time.So this is a team that I would love to be a part of for a very, very long time.
“So on my end, it’s there, I’m that I’m a Seahawk, until they tell me I’m not. So that’s my mindset. So I do not see it as my last fight or this next one. match could be my next match. “
Wagner was asked what gave him optimism that he would be back.
“I want to say that I’m a pretty good businessman, and I want to say that I have a lot of respect here,” Wagner said. “So I just want to get into my businessman mentality and find out some things.”