For fans of the Seattle Seahawks, March certainly came in like a lion. Tuesday marks three weeks since reports emerged that the team would trade Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, as well as move on from future Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Wagner. The day marked the end of an era for Seattle sports, and the beginning of new adventures for Wagner and Wilson.
Wagner, per reports, wasted no time in looking to take advantage of being an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, as there was no shortage of teams reportedly interested in his services. His first reported stop was with the defending Super Bowl champion and division rival Los Angeles Rams, but despite reported interest on both sides, Wagner left without agreeing to a contract. After the visit to the Rams, Wagner then headed to the East Coast, where he met with the Baltimore Ravens. However, his visit in Baltimore ended similarly to his visit to Los Angeles, without agreeing to a contract.
That, of course, brings up the question of how one of the greatest linebackers in the history of the NFL could remain unemployed for nearly three weeks while teams are tripping over themselves bidding for the services of the likes of Christian Kirk, Will Dissly and Shaq Mason.
In his Football Morning in America article on Monday, Peter King of NBC Sports shared some insight into what Wagner is reportedly looking for as a free agent, and it likely goes a long way towards explaining why Wagner remains unsigned.
Football Morning In America is up!— Peter King (@peter_king) March 28, 2022
In my latest column, you'll find:
✅ New OT rule? "It passes easy," one exec tells me
✅ Tyreek Hill deal shows how NFL is changing
✅ How I see the first-round QB market
And so much more, thanks for reading: https://t.co/ABAPavIgbV pic.twitter.com/sjH4MNOWne
The short version of King’s insight is that, “Rams have legitimate interest, but not at Wagner’s price”, which is basically the situation many had expected. Wagner, without doubt, is one of the greatest off-ball linebackers in the NFL, but off ball linebacker is a position the Rams tend not to value.
The lone starter at off ball linebacker for Los Angles in their Super Bowl victory over the Cincinnati Bengals was Ernest Jones, a rookie third round draft pick. The only other off ball linebacker who saw significant snaps in the game was Troy Reeder, a 27 year old former undrafted free agent playing in the final year of his three year UDFA contract and who was not tendered as a restricted free agent this offseason.
In short, while the Rams are more than happy to spend draft picks on acquiring impact players at outside linebacker, such as Von Miller and Leonard Floyd, they do the exact opposite when it comes to off ball linebackers. Thus, while Wagner is still very good, the $11M, one-year deal King reports that Wagner is searching for on the free agent market would keep Wagner in the top ten highest earning off ball linebackers in the NFL.
With many teams facing tight cap situations following the drop in the salary cap in the 2021 season, that’s a price that will likely keep the majority of teams away. Putting it all together, free agency could be long and quiet for Wagner, much like it was a year ago for K.J. Wright, another very good off ball linebacker who happens to also remain unsigned two weeks into free agency.