Bobby Wagner Heads Back Into Free Agency After Release by the Rams
On February 23rd, 2023, the Los Angeles Rams and eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Bobby Wagner mutually agreed to part ways after one season together. The 32-year-old Wagner had just completed the first season of his five-year, $50 million contract.
Wagner played his first 10 seasons with the Seahawks before joining the Rams last season, starting 17 games for Los Angeles in 2022 and totaling 140 tackles (81 solo) with six sacks and two interceptions. Those numbers earned him second team All-Pro honors. He was also PFF’s highest-graded middle linebacker.
The Rams will save $5 million in salary cap space with the move, while they’ll incur a $7.5 million dead money charge. They have the option to designate Wagner a post-June 1 release, which would save them an additional $8 million, though that savings can’t be credited to their cap until the summer.
Wagner will now be one of the top available free agent defensive players, and his services will be in high demand. He is a likely future Hall of Fame player, having not missed a game since the 2018 season and only one game since the start of the 2016 season.
The Seahawks are in need of a linebacker, with the team having the eighth-most cap space in the league right now, with $31.3 million to spend. However, they may not be the best fit for Wagner, as he is looking to join a team with a chance to win a Super Bowl in 2023.
The Cowboys have three impending free agents at linebacker in Leighton Vander Esch, Anthony Barr and Luke Gifford. Each of them have shown promise, but whether any of them are ready to step into a major role in the LB corps is unclear.
Wagner has expressed some bitterness in the moments after being released, with Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider later apologizing for the awkward handling of the news. At a March press conference, Schneider admitted that the miscommunication was his fault, and expressed regret for not managing the situation with Wagner, the former Seattle star, more effectively, despite the complications posed by Wagner's role as his agent.
0. “Los Angeles Rams and linebacker Bobby Wagner mutually agree to part ways” kmmo.com, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.kmmo.com/2023/02/24/los-angeles-rams-and-linebacker-bobby-wagner-mutually-agree-to-part-ways/
1. “Seahawks GM John Schneider reacts to news of Bobby Wagner’s release” Yahoo Sports, 24 Feb. 2023, https://sports.yahoo.com/seahawks-gm-john-schneider-reacts-080155696.html
2. “Rams releasing LB Bobby Wagner after one season” NFL.com, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.nfl.com/news/rams-releasing-lb-bobby-wagner-after-one-season
3. “Seahawks GM Gives Unclear Answer About Possible Bobby Wagner Return” msnNOW, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/seahawks-gm-gives-unclear-answer-about-possible-bobby-wagner-return/ar-AA17SbF9?li=BB15ms5q
4. “Reports: Rams Will Release LB Bobby Wagner, Who Steelers Reportedly Had Interest In Last Year” Steelers Depot, 24 Feb. 2023, https://steelersdepot.com/2023/02/reports-rams-will-release-lb-bobby-wagner-who-steelers-reportedly-had-interest-in-last-year/
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7. “NFL 2023: Bobby Wagner becomes surprise free agent after mutually agreeing to part ways with Los Angeles Rams …” Fox Sports, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.foxsports.com.au/nfl/nfl-2023-bobby-wagner-becomes-surprise-free-agent-after-mutually-agreeing-to-part-ways-with-los-angeles-rams-team-news-free-agency-trade-rumours/news-story/581be50cdc18affef7553c169222f7d2
8. “The Los Angeles Rams just cut an All-Pro to make cap space” Yardbarker, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/the_los_angeles_rams_just_cut_an_all_pro_to_make_cap_space/s1_13132_38504717
9. “Bobby Wagner released by Rams; Jeffery Simmons recruits him to Titans” Music City Miracles, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.musiccitymiracles.com/2023/2/23/23612655/bobby-wagner-released-by-rams-jeffery-simmons-recruits-him-titans
10. “LB Bobby Wagner to hit free agency; will Cowboys play ball this time?” Cowboys Wire, 24 Feb. 2023, https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/2023/02/23/bobby-wagner-2023-free-agency/
11. “With Bobby Wagner set to be released by Rams, here’s what to know about potential for Seahawks reunion” The Seattle Times, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/seahawks/with-bobby-wagner-set-to-be-released-by-rams-heres-what-to-know-about-potential-for-seahawks-reunion/
12. “Rost: Bobby Wagner is suddenly available — time for a Seahawks reunion?” Seattle Sports, 23 Feb. 2023, https://sports.mynorthwest.com/1742659/rost-bobby-wagner-suddenly-available-time-for-seahawks-reunion/