Bobby Wagner expects 2019 to be his final season with the Seattle Seahawks.
The four-time All-Pro wants to retire as a Seahawk, he said, but grasps the reality that comes with paying your quarterback more than $35 million per season. Already Wagner watched the Seahawks let go of cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive end Michael Bennett, safety Earl Thomas and most recently trade franchise-tagged defensive end Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I’m preparing like this is my last year as a Seahawk. If it is, I want to make sure I go out with a bang and make sure I give the city something to remember,” Wagner told NFL Network.
Wagner’s contract is set to expire at the end of the 2019 season, paying him $10.5 million in base salary.
Wagner will be 30 during the 2020 season. While his expiration date is debatable, his production with the Seahawks is undeniable. He has never posted fewer than 116 tackles in a season and averages more than 140. He has 17 takeaways and four defensive touchdowns in seven seasons with the Seahawks.
The market for inside linebackers exploded in March, sparked by the $85 million deal — $43 million guaranteed — the New York Jets handed free agent C.J. Mosley. Essentially, that deal set the free agent market for top inside ‘backers at the franchise-tag level. It’s not implausible that the Seahawks could turn to a tag game to retain Wagner in 2020.
However, Wagner said coach Pete Carroll’s assertion in March that the Seahawks are in contract talks with the linebacker are unfounded.
The contract of defensive tackle Jarran Reed is thought to be another priority for Seattle. But he’s coming off of sports hernia surgery, and the Seahawks are likely to want to see him on the field before moving ahead.
Wagner, following Sherman’s lead, represents himself and does not have customary player agent representation.
“Yeah there are several guys we would like to extend,” general manager John Schneider said. “Bobby has been incredible, so yeah, he’s a guy that has a year left on his contract. He is representing himself, so ...’’
Schneider admitted the sticky, often personal, nature of negotiations are worrisome to the Seahawks.
“Negotiating, it’s not fun, you know what I mean?” Schneider said before the 2019 NFL Draft. “And anytime you do them with a player you are going to have those conversations that are very direct, very blunt, and it’s a process you have to go through. I look at it like it’s kind of like a necessary evil ... I’ve never been involved with anybody in 27 years of doing this where you come out of a negotiation and everybody feels like it just totally, ‘boy that was amazing’ you know what I mean? It never really happens that way.’’
—Field Level Media