Fans of the Seattle Seahawks have been anxious to see what would happen to their linebacker corps during the 2019 NFL free agent signing period for the simple reason that Pro Bowl linebacker K.J. Wright could be lost to another team. However, through the first day and the wee hours of the morning of the second day of the legal tampering period, the biggest impact on the Seahawks linebackers may come from players Seattle did not sign.
While All Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner remains under contract through 2019 and is not set to hit free agency until 2020, his price tag has likely skyrocketed following the spending spree by other teams around the league to sign off ball, run-stopping linebackers. The trend started on Monday following reports that the San Francisco 49ers would be signing Kwon Alexander to a massive, four-year, $54M deal while Alexander is coming off a serious knee injury.
Just in case some fans thought $13.5M per year is too much for a linebacker with seven career sacks, the New York Jets stepped into the fray early Tuesday in order to throw their hat in the ring. The Jets agreed to terms on a five-year, $85M deal with C.J. Mosley that resets the linebacker market upwards for the second time in as many days.
In short, the off ball linebacker market had been stagnant for years, with Wagner and Luke Kuechly having set and held the top of the market since signing their current contracts six weeks apart in August and September of 2015. However, the years of stagnation have been thrown out the window in the last twenty four hours, and that could potentially force an extension for Wagner higher.
It is likely that the 49ers pursuit of a run stopper like Alexander was based on a desire to be better able to stop the run, a key component of the offensive strategy of the divisional rival Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams. However, the simple fact of the matter is that the biggest impact from the signing could come from the effect it has on how much the Hawks might be forced to pay Wagner.