It seems the majority of Seattle Seahawks observers believe the Hawks should give Bobby Wagner whatever he wants.
This week’s Seattle Sidelines asked readers to put themselves into Seattle general manager John Schneider’s shoes. Wagner, Seattle’s All-Pro middle linebacker, is entering the final year of his contract, which means the time has arrived for negotiating an extension. Wagner has been as productive a defensive player as there’s been in the NFL, but he’s seeking a record deal, and he’s entering his 29-year-old season, which puts him in the older category for NFL purposes.
Therefore, we asked readers how they would handle Wagner’s contract situation, and specifically what kind of contract they would offer him. Here’s how you voted:
POLL: What kind of contract extension should the Seahawks offer All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner? Full context, including a closer examination of the situation, here: https://t.co/rDYmAdw594
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) June 17, 2019
Add it all up and more than half the responders — 56 percent — said they would offer Wagner a long-term contract with a large sum of guaranteed money.
This is the type of contract the Seahawks will likely have to give Wagner to get a deal done. Wagner has indicated he’s looking to be the highest-paid inside linebacker in the league, which means he’d surpass the five-year, $85 million contract — with $51 million guaranteed — that C.J. Mosley signed with the New York Jets this offseason.
However, with Wagner turning 29 next week, the Seahawks may want to offer Wagner an extension that surpasses Mosley’s deal in terms of average annual salary ($17 million a year) and includes plenty of guaranteed money, but is shorter in length, perhaps something in the three-year, $55 million range with most of it guaranteed. This is the type of deal 23 percent of the responders advocated for.
How about going the other way? What if the Seahawks offered Wagner a deal of equal length and greater overall value to Mosley — say, five years and $90 million — but with less guaranteed money? That way Wagner could say he has the biggest contract, and the Seahawks would have some protection against injury or declining play. Nine percent of the voters went for this option. However, with the way things are going with NFL contracts, it’s hard to believe Wagner would accept less guaranteed money.
The last option was letting Wagner play out the final year of his contract. Seattle would still be able to maintain Wagner’s rights the following season via the franchise player tag. This option would have the least impact on the salary cap and inoculate Seattle against any decline in Wagner’s play. But like with Earl Thomas last year, it risks creating acrimony between team and player, and it’s something that will remain in the headlines all season long. Twelve percent of voters went with this option.
The wild card in all this is that Wagner is representing himself in negotiations, rather than hiring an agent. This adds an element of unpredictability to the equation and could result in a deal that is non-standard, such as the incentive-laden deal former Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman negotiated with the San Francisco 49ers last year when representing himself.
But regardless of what kind of offers are on the table, there’s no doubt that both Wagner and the Seahawks would like negotiations to be wrapped up before training camp begins on July 25. Otherwise there’s the possibility of more holdout drama this year.