What should the Seattle Seahawks do about Bobby Wagner?
The Seahawks wrapped up their minicamp last week, meaning the team is now off for six weeks. Training camp dates haven’t been set yet, but they’ll get started in late July.
Seattle’s offseason program, which included rookie minicamp, OTAs and minicamp, was largely drama-free. While the Seahawks certainly have questions that need to be answered, there was a distinct lack of any kind of noise or controversy coming out of Seattle’s camp this year.
But even though it may not have generated much noise, there is one issue that still hovers above the Seahawks, and that’s Bobby Wagner’s contract.
Wagner, Seattle’s star middle linebacker, has reached the point where it’s time to negotiate a new deal. He is entering the last year of a four-year, $43 million extension signed in 2015, which is the point at which the Seahawks will re-open negotiations.
Wagner is without question Seattle’s best defensive player. He’s the defensive captain, a four-time All-Pro, and an argument can be made that he’s as good a defensive player as there is in the NFL. As such, he wants to be paid like it.
The market for inside linebackers was set in March when the New York Jets signed free agent C.J. Mosley to a five-year, $85 million contract, which included $51 million in guaranteed money. Seattle is probably going to have to exceed this amount if it wants to get anything done with Wagner.
Seattle has the salary cap room to get something done. According to OverTheCap.com, the Seahawks have nearly $24 million in effective cap space for 2019, thanks in part to the termination of the contracts of safety Kam Chancellor and receiver Doug Baldwin, as well as trading defensive end Frank Clark and thus avoiding having to give him a big-money deal. So if the Seahawks want to sign Wagner to a record extension, they can do it.
But then questions have to be asked about whether it’s the smartest thing to do. Seattle has far less wiggle room to work with in the coming years after signing quarterback Russell Wilson to a four-year, $140 million contract extension in April. There’s only room for so many big contracts under the cap.
Then there’s Wagner’s age. Wagner turns 29 on June 27, and the brutal truth about football is that makes him an elder statesman in the league. If the Seahawks sign Wagner to a long-term deal with a large amount of guaranteed money, there’s the risk the team is paying for past production rather than future production. Chancellor serves as the warning in this regard, as he signed a lucrative extension only to soon suffer what proved to be a career-ending injury.
Thankfully for Seattle, Wagner has handled the situation with the bare minimum of controversy. Wagner didn’t participate in any of Seattle’s offseason practices, but he was present for all of them and there were no hints of agitating. And both he and management were saying all the right things about a deal eventually getting done.
So if you were running the Seahawks, what type of contract would you offer Wagner? Have your say here: