Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner reacts after his sack during a game against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 4, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner reacts after his sack during a game against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 4, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

Seahawks have talked to Wagner, is a return imminent?

General manager John Schneider recently spoke to the ex-Seattle star, who is set to be released by the Los Angeles Rams next week.

  • Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times
  • Friday, March 10, 2023 4:39pm
  • SportsSeahawks

By Bob Condotta / The Seattle Times

When news broke last month that the Los Angeles Rams intended to release Bobby Wagner, Seahawks general manager John Schneider said he couldn’t talk about it because the move wasn’t official yet.

The Rams announced last week that Wagner will be released on Wednesday when the new league year begins.

Because Wagner’s status is official, Schneider said on his weekly radio show on Seattle Sports 710 AM on Thursday afternoon that he has talked with Wagner, who is serving as his own agent, about his future.

Whether that means a return to the Seahawks is imminent, Schneider’s comments didn’t really make it clear.

Schneider first said he’d talked to Wagner in an answer to a question about players serving as their own agent, something former Seahawks Russell Okung and Richard Sherman did as well.

“When you really care about somebody like that, like we do with Russ and Sherm and Bobby, no matter what, you’re gonna get into uncomfortable conversations,” Schneider said. “If there’s a buffer there (meaning, an agent working for the player) that’s great, and I personally think it helps. Bobby may disagree with me, but I think that no matter what, you’re gonna get into awkward situations. Personally, I pride myself on the relationship I have with the players in trying to be as straightforward with them as I possibly can to help them and to protect the organization. Sometimes that communication is hard.

“So we’ve been able to talk to Bobby now and address some of those things, so it’s worked out great. We’re gonna be in communication as we go along throughout free agency now.”

Asked a follow-up about the last part of that statement and talking to Wagner, Schneider said he and Carroll talked to Wagner “the other day.”

“We had a great, awesome, frank conversation,” Schneider said. “So he knows where we are, and we know where he’s at. We have so much respect for him personally and professionally, so we were able to talk through some things and, yeah, we know where it’s going.”

That comment could be interpreted as either that the team has talked to him about a return — Wagner can’t sign with any team until he is officially released, though he was given permission to talk to teams — or that that “frank conversation” may have laid out some other possibilities.

Wagner said after his release a year ago that he was upset that he hadn’t heard about his release first from the team.

Schneider apologized saying one complication in the communication between the two was Wagner serving as his own agent — his mention of a “buffer” is a reference to being able to talk frankly to a player’s agent about a team’s plans, something Schneider said is harder to do with a player serving as his own agent.

Regardless, any mention of the Seahawks and Wagner talking is sure to lead to speculation that a return is possible until the moment it isn’t.

Wagner played 10 years for the Seahawks before he was released last March 8, the same day they traded Russell Wilson to Denver. He signed what was billed as a five-year, $50 million deal with the Rams and played all 17 games in 2022 and was a second-team All-Pro.

With the Rams retooling after a 5-12 season that was the worst ever for a defending Super Bowl champion, the Rams and Wagner announced a “mutual agreement” to “part ways,” a move that will save L.A. $5 million against the cap in 2023.

According to OvertheCap.com, Wagner made $7.25 million for his one year with the Rams. He was averaging $18 million on his deal in Seattle.

Wagner turns 33 in June and it was reported he wants to go somewhere he can win next season.

He could view the Seahawks as having a chance to do that coming off a 9-8 season and having secured quarterback Geno Smith for another year.

The Seahawks have some unexpected needs at linebacker with Wagner’s successor at middle linebacker — Jordyn Brooks — suffering an ACL injury on Jan. 1, an injury that typically requires a roughly nine-month recovery.

Cody Barton, who started at weakside linebacker last year before moving to the middle for the final regular-season game and the playoffs when Brooks was hurt can also be a free agent Wednesday.

Could Wagner return to again lead the linebacking corps?

All we seem to know for sure is that the two sides at least are talking.

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