Bobby Wagner bets on himself, looks to win big with Rams deal

Underestimate Bobby Wagner at your peril. And as the Seahawks are about to find out, motivate him at your own risk, too.

Wagner agreed to play for the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday, which puts him squarely in the Seahawks’ crosshairs twice a year — a disturbing turn of events.

The case was reported for the first time by a promising journalist named Richard Sherman. Keep an eye on him; he has good contacts and a work ethic that makes ESPN’s Adam Schefter envious. The contract will be for five years and $50 million, with incentives that could push it up to $65 million.

It’s all a stunt from Wagner’s agent, who happens to be Wagner himself. Also keep an eye on him; Wagner has negotiated two great deals for himself and could be the next Leigh Steinberg once he decides punishing running backs is no longer his calling.

Wagner’s departure from the Seahawks

Lumen Field - Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals - 112121 Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner and linebacker Jordyn Brooks stand for the national anthem before the start of a game Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021 in Seattle.  218880

Recent rumors were that Wagner may be overvaluing himself and misreading the market for a 31-year-old linebacker with 10 years of wear and tear on his body. The Cowboys and Rams were reportedly apprehensive about paying the roughly $11 million Wagner was seeking for a year, according to NBC Sports’ Peter King.

We’ll have to see the fine print on how the money is distributed, but it sure looks like Wagner bet on himself and won handily. He’s going to a Rams team that just won the Super Bowl and is in good shape to have another solid run. Quarterback Russell Wilson, whose Seattle career began the same day in 2012 as Wagner and ended the same day, is the ex-Seahawk who has spoken the loudest about wanting to add more championships to his curriculum vitae. But it is Wagner who is now the closest to achieving this.

Those who didn’t think Wagner could negotiate the deal he wanted can now join those who didn’t think he deserved a second-round pick in the NFL Draft. Even those who praised the pick could hardly have foreseen the Hall of Fame career Wagner forged in Seattle, in which he broke all Seahawks tackling records, made eight Pro Bowls and was named six times in the first All-Pro team.

And yet the Seahawks, for primarily but perhaps not entirely financial reasons, decided three weeks ago not to bring Wagner back for an 11and season. They’re looking to transition to a new, younger core linebacker of Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton.

That alone is sure to boost Wagner’s competitive spirit when the Seahawks and Rams meet in 2022, once in Los Angeles and once in Seattle. The last time the Seahawks faced such a circumstance within the division, Sherman — the cornerback, not the press dog — was leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2019 after being ousted from Seattle.

From what I’ve learned about Wagner through frequent interactions over the years, he’ll be pushed — quietly and quietly, but fanatically — to show the Seahawks why they made a big mistake. And what can’t be quantified is how much fuel will be added to this fire by the clumsy way the news of his release was delivered by the Seahawks. While tweeting with obvious outrage, Wagner found out through the media, not the Seahawks, for whom the club has repeatedly apologized. Yet it happened, and will no doubt be front and center in the coverage — and in Wagner’s mind — when these teams meet.

The “revenge tour” will be active at Lumen Field in 2022. Joining Wagner for a return to Seattle — game dates have not been announced, but opponents have been locked down — will be Wilson, as a member of the Broncos from Denver. The quarterback is probably already creating the new highlights video and thank you from the bottom of my heart to the fans for dropping by on his social media this week.

But I think Wagner’s return could be more emotional. While Wilson has proven to be somewhat polarizing, particularly over the past two years, Wagner was more or less evenly beloved by the fan base.

His loss could also be felt on a deeper level in the Seahawks clubhouse. No one was more universally respected and provided greater leadership than Wagner, which is not meant to shock Wilson but rather testify to Wagner’s stature. While he surely paid the price for 1,383 tackles, Wagner is still a highly productive player who can be rejuvenated by a new situation.

The Seahawks made the business decision that it was best to continue without Wagner. Wagner made the business decision that his optimal next move, professionally and financially, was with the Rams.

We can only guess which games will be most marked on his schedule.

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