Bobby Wagner during a game against the Houston Texans on Dec. 12, 2021, in Houston. Wagner was released by the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson, File)

Bobby Wagner during a game against the Houston Texans on Dec. 12, 2021, in Houston. Wagner was released by the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson, File)

Seahawks officially release star MLB Wagner

The announcement came a few hours after quarterback Russell Wilson tweeted goodbye to Seattle.

  • Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times
  • Wednesday, March 9, 2022 8:49pm
  • SportsSeahawks

By Bob Condotta / The Seattle Times

The end of a Seahawks era first revealed Tuesday became official Wednesday as the team announced it has released middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.

The announcement came a few hours after quarterback Russell Wilson tweeted a goodbye to Seattle, the twin pillars of the Seahawks for a decade each moving on in what will go down as one of the most momentous days in team history.

Wagner was released in a move that will save $16.6 million against the salary cap in 2022.

By releasing him now, the Seahawks allow Wagner to immediately become a free agent and potentially find a team before the start of the new league year on March 16. That’s the date when players whose contracts simply run out and become unrestricted free agents can first sign with teams.

Wagner acknowledged the news in a tweet reading: “Thank you Seattle for everything. It will forever be my home.”

In a quote released by the team, general manager John Schneider said, “This is an extremely difficult day for the organization. Bobby has been at the center of our defense for the past 10 seasons and always represented our organization with class. He is a special player and person, and we are forever grateful. Bobby will always be a Hawk.”

Said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll in a quote released by the team: “Bobby is one of the great Seahawks of all-time. His leadership in the community, locker room, and on the field is a tribute to his character and consistency. Bobby set an incredible example for all to follow, and we will continue to follow him all the way to the Hall of Fame.”

The trade for Wilson was not yet official as of Wednesday afternoon, so the team did not have a similar comment on that move.

But the two transactions represent one of the most seismic shifts in the personality for the team as any day possibly could, each player viewed as certain to have their numbers retired and Hall of Famers — each have also been a team captain for the last five years and Wilson the last nine..

The release of Wagner and freeing up of a significant amount of money, though, may go a long way toward helping Seattle replace Wilson.

Seattle now has roughly $51 million in cap space, which according to would be on par with the Dolphins ($51.3 million) for second most in the NFL behind only the Colts, who on Wednesday traded quarterback Carson Wentz and were listed with $69.8 million.

A report from the Pro Football Network Wednesday stated the Seahawks will have interest in exploring options with Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson but noted that nothing is “imminent or developing at this time as (Watsons’s) legal situation is unresolved.”

As PFN reported, Watson is scheduled to give his first deposition on Friday at the office of his attorney, Rusty Hardin, in relation to 10 criminal complaints and 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct. PFN reported a district attorney will present a case to the grand jury on Friday in Houston.

But sources have indicated the Seahawks will cast a wide net as they search for their next quarterback, willing to explore trades, free agent signings and the draft.

Once the trade is official — it could be announced as agreed upon once physicals are signed and paperwork completed and can become final on March 16 — Seattle will have two quarterbacks under contract in Drew Lock and Jacob Eason.

The Seahawks are also expected to re-sign Geno Smith, Wilson’s backup the last three years.

But the Seahawks are thought to be willing, if necessary, to load up on the QB spot as they did in 2012, when after signing Matt Flynn as a free agent, they drafted Wilson in the third round.

The Seahawks will also need to replace Wagner, the franchise’s all-time leader in tackles with 1,381 and an eight-time Pro Bowl, tied for the third most in team history behind the nine of Wilson and Walter Jones.

Wagner had just one year left on his contract, which he negotiated himself in 2019 and which made him at the time the highest-paid inside linebacker in team history at an average of $18 million per season.

But Wagner had no more guaranteed money in the contract, and that led to wide speculation that he could be released because of the cap savings.

The team’s statements indicate Seattle does not anticipate re-signing Wagner at a cheaper salary later.

Wagner, 31, said late last season that whatever happened with the Seahawks, he wanted to continue to play.

“I don’t see myself stopping playing,” he said. “I feel like I’ve got a lot of room to grow as a player, to grow as a leader. I feel like there’s a lot of new technology that’s going to let me play a little bit longer, so I’m excited to dive into that stuff and we’ll see how it works out.”

Wagner had set a single-season franchise record with 170 tackles before he missed all but one play of the final two games of when he suffered a sprained knee on the first defensive snap against Detroit, and was replaced by Cody Barton. Jordyn Brooks then surpassed Wagner in tackles with 184 for the season.

Barton, entering the last year of his rookie deal in 2022, had seven and 11 tackles in wins over Detroit and Arizona, and it’s thought the team views him as a legitimate candidate to step in for Wagner to pair with Brooks at the inside linebacker spots.

Seattle is expected to go with more 3-4 looks under new defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt which will also likely change the dynamics of how the team uses its linebackers some.

Also a potential candidate for playing time at middle linebacker is former UW standout Ben Burr-Kirven, assuming he recovers from a season-ending ACL injury suffered in the second preseason game last August.

Burr-Kirven has two years remaining on his rookie contract.

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