Wagner says he has ‘no hatred’ of the Seahawks

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All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner says he “has no hatred” for the Seattle Seahawks, but still believes they should have handled his release differently.

And he considers the chance to play against his old team twice a year a good bonus by signing the Los Angeles Rams, even if that was not the reason he joined Seattle’s divisional rival.

“A lot of people think it went into my decision to be able to play the Seahawks,” Wagner said Monday in his introductory video conference with the Rams. “I do not have that much hatred in my heart. I think I would really be happy and I would be close to home and stay on the West Coast. That was important to me. But playing Seahawks twice a year was “a cherry on top and I want to make sure they see me every time we play them. They know where I am and I want to make sure I tell them. It’s not going to be a quiet game for me.”

Wagner spoke to reporters for the first time since agreeing to a five-year, $ 50 million contract with the reigning Super Bowl champions last week. A source told ESPN that the deal, which Wagner himself negotiated, includes $ 20 million in guarantees as well as incentives that allow him to earn up to $ 23.5 million through the first two seasons.

Wagner, 31, became a free agent for the first time in his career when the Seahawks released him last month, completing a 10-year race in Seattle that included eight Pro Bowls, six first-team All-Pro selections, a Super Bowl championship and a franchise record of 1,383 tackles.

And one messy bride.

The Seahawks informed Wagner that he was being released before ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news, but Wagner had already heard about the team’s plan to move on with younger players at linebacker. He expressed his outrage via Twitter and directly to the team.

Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider both took the blame for incorrect handling of the communication. Carroll said he persevered for as long as possible in the hope that there would be a way Seattle could keep Wagner. Schneider said the organization owed Wagner better, noting a complicating factor in the situation – that he did not have the usual “buffer” that an agent provides between team and player because Wagner represents himself.

The Seahawks did not discuss a new contract with Wagner.

“Personally, I think after 10 years, I think it’s just a simple communication,” Wagner said. “I do not think it needed to be that difficult. I saw their interview. I saw their apology and I am grateful. But when they said it was because I represented myself, I felt that part was weak. .. whether I had an agent or whether I did not have an agent, I still feel like it was a conversation they could have had.They have already moved on.I have moved on, so that’s what it is at this point.I just think that after 10 years it could have been a simple conversation even if they would go in a different direction.I do not think I represented myself played any role in my end.It’s more in their end. Maybe they did. I did not want to do, did not want to burn that bridge. But I want to through this process and the last process [negotiating his record $54 million extension in 2019], I’ve shown the ability to handle the tough conversations we’ve had, the tough conversations throughout my 10-year career there. So it’s easy just to pick up the phone.

“I should not have had to figure out the way I found out. But like I said, that’s what it is. I ended up in a great place.”

Wagner, who was selected in the second round by the Seahawks in 2012, said he never thought he would leave Seattle and “always” would be there. As soon as the Seahawks released him, he had to separate the emotions he felt as a player from the job he knew he had to perform as his own agent.

“The player took it a little personally, but the agent just went to work,” he said. “So I just started calling teams and reaching out to teams. I think a lot of teams didn’t know I was representing myself. So I contacted teams to make sure they knew I was the person they were going to.to reach out directly and somehow started the process from there.It was definitely stressful because as I said you have been somewhere for 10 years and there was an idea that you did not think that you would leave and that’s not how it went, but I ended up in a great place, closer to home, and I’m excited. “

Wagner is from Ontario, California, about 80 miles east of SoFi Stadium. He still has a family in the area, including a nephew who is a senior at his alma mater, Colony High School.

General manager Les Snead said the Rams “did not really plan the opportunity” to pick up Wagner. When they found out he was interested in playing in Los Angeles, Snead said they had internal discussions about how they could get Wagner and other linebacker Ernest Jones on the field together, without wanting the upcoming Jones should lose playing time. Snead said they encouraged Wagner to take the time he needed to talk and visit other teams, and told him they would be patient.

Snead had long regarded Wagner as the one who escaped. The Rams wanted to draft him in the second or third round in 2012 under then-coach Jeff Fisher, who was a big fan. Seattle beat them to an end. The wasted opportunity gave way to a new organizational philosophy of being more aggressive in drafting prospectuses that they really want. They call it “The Bobby Wagner Rule.”

“About a thousand tackles later,” Snead said, “we got Bobby Wagner.”

Wagner joins receiver Allen Robinson II as major additions to the list that won the Super Bowl LVI in February. But the Rams also have suffered from many significant subtractions. Coach Sean McVay said part of the appeal to Wagner is that he helps fill the gap in management created by left-wing tackle Andrew Whitworth (retirement), outside linebacker Von Miller (to Buffalo Bills in free agency) and security Eric Weddle (retirement)).

“There are a couple of guys in this league that you get a chance to go to after matches because you respect their body, the way they approach it not only physically but also mentally, and Bobby has always been one of The guys, “McVay said. “Just a lot of respect for everything he’s been asked to do in the defensive system. It’s definitely an advantage not to have to play against him. He’s one of those guys who can fit into any system. “

Wagner was asked if he thinks his relationship with the Seahawks will be repaired over time.

“At some point,” he said. “I have no hatred for Seattle. I have no hatred for the Seahawks. I think, Pete, John, [Jody Allen, the team’s de facto owner]. All those guys, they are amazing. They treated me well while I was there. So like I said, I have no hatred in my heart. I did not understand how they handled it? I wrote to them. I let them know I did not appreciate how they handled it. So that’s what it is. It’s not something I’m going to sit here and use as motivation. Whether I play somewhere else or play there, I am a motivated person. I do not need extra motivation.

“But that game in Seattle will definitely be interesting.”

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