So, the Russell Wilson thing didn’t really work out. I can’t say I’m crushed. Teams need great players, but they also need draft picks and cap space. I figure you can give up one or the other, but I hate the idea of giving up both, and, reportedly, Washington would have had to trade away more than three 1st-round draft picks in addition to the $25m+ per year in cap space that Russ would have consumed.
At this point, I’m ready to draft a rookie signal caller and give him the best offensive weapons and the strongest defense possible.
Which brings me to another Seattle legend who just saw his career as a Seahawk come to an end — the 8-time All Pro (and 8-time Pro Bowl) linebacker and super bowl (XLVIII) champion, Bobby Wagner who was just released by the Seattle Seahawks on the same day that the trade of Russell Wilson was announced.
The Seahawks freed up $16.6m in cap space with his release, and the 32-year-old Wagner immediately becomes the best free agent linebacker available — and his availability is immediate. Unlike most other NFL veteran free agents, teams don’t have to wait until 16 March to sign him; nor do they need to wait until the start of the “legal tampering period” later this week to talk to his agent.
In fact, Wagner doesn’t have an agent — he negotiates for himself. His three-year, $54 million mega-deal extension in the summer of 2019 set a record for off-the-ball linebackers at $18 million per season and served as perhaps the best success story of a high-profile NFL player handling his own contract talks. Of course, he won’t be collecting the final $16.6m of that contract since the Seahawks front office have decided to move on.
The immediate question becomes: where will Wagner move on to?
One answer to that question could be Washington. I don’t know if any team has a greater need at linebacker, and the addition of Wagner would be transformative for a defense that has plenty of individual talent but lacks the clear veteran leadership that Wagner would bring to the team.
It’s not like he’s slowing down with age. Wagner set a career high in tackles in 2021 with 170 tackles in 16 games.
Bobby Wagner is still probably the best inside linebacker in the NFL. And for anyone who wants to bring up the fact that he’s going to be 32, Washington first signed London Fletcher when he was 32.— Commanders Realm (@CommandersRealm) March 9, 2022
But Bobby Wagner’s real contribution to the Commanders would be as a veteran leader. Imagine what it would mean to the development of Jamin Davis and Cole Holcomb to play the next two or three seasons next to a future Hall-of-Fame linebacker! Wagner would instantly be the captain of the defense, on the field for 1,100 snaps per season. He would raise the level of play for the entire defensive group for all 1,100 snaps.
Every team needs stars. Wagner is an aging star, but not a fading one. I see a perfect marriage between the veteran and the Commanders, who have a nearly-complete defense that needs a leader like Wagner (and a free safety) to be among the NFL elite. (So, while we’re signing Bobby Wagner, someone needs to put in a call to Quandre Diggs’ agent. Sign Wagner & Diggs, get a WR to help Terry, draft PIckett, Corrall or Willis and call it a job well done).
Related: About Washington’s linebackers
Going after Bobby Wagner won’t be cheap, but it also won’t cost any draft picks. There is no other move that Ron Rivera and Martin Mayhew could make to improve the defensive side of the ball that would be as impactful as signing Wagner. With a fresh 3 or 4 year contract to work with, there will be plenty of scope to structure it to fit both the player’s and the team’s needs.
This is an opportunity that the front office has known would be coming (Wagner’s release has been expected in NFL circles all off-season). Now is the time to act. In my view, the Commanders should have been on the phone to Bobby Wagner already. We know that the team won’t be trading for Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson; it’s time to make the moves to transform the defense into the elite squad it can be, and turn attention to the draft for a rookie quarterback to start the Commanders era of Washington football.
What’s your view on Bobby Wagner as the next Washington middle linebacker?
This poll is closed
No brainer - go get him.
32 years old and a market busting contract? No thanks.
Amari Cooper didn’t want to play here; neither did Stafford or Wilson. Wagner won’t be any different. Nobody wants to play in Washington.
RR needs to still target a veteran like Watson or Garoppolo, and they won’t come cheap. This team can’t afford Wagner.
I’d rather draft Chad Muma in the 2nd round and have him on a rookie deal for the next 4 years.
I have a completely different view from the other options offered in this poll.