Every professional player Bobby Wagner He says he “has no hatred” toward the Seattle Seahawks, but still believes they should have handled his release differently.
He considers the opportunity to play for his old team twice a year as a great bonus for signing with the Los Angeles Rams, even if that wasn’t why he joined the division’s Seattle rival.
“A lot of people think it was my decision, to be able to play the Seahawks,” Wagner said Monday in his introductory video conference with the Rams. “I don’t have much hate in my heart. I think I really wanted to be happy and wanted to be close to home and stay on the West Coast. That was important to me. But playing the Seahawks twice a year was the cherry on top, and I’d make sure you see me in every Once we play. They will know where I am and I will make sure to tell them. It will not be a quiet game for me.”
Wagner spoke with reporters for the first time since agreeing to a five-year, $50 million contract with the Super Bowl champion last week. A source told ESPN that the deal Wagner negotiated himself includes $20 million in guarantees as well as incentives that give him a chance to earn up to $23.5 million over the first two seasons.
Wagner, 31, became a free agent for the first time in his career when he was fired by the Seahawks last month, ending a 10-year career in Seattle that included eight Pro Bowls, six All-Pro first team selections, a Super Bowl championship and a franchise record of 1,383 tackles.
And one messy breakup.
The Seahawks reported Wagner that he had been released before ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news, but Wagner had already known of the team’s plan to move forward with young players at the quarterback. He expressed his indignation on Twitter and directly with the team.
Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider both took the blame for mishandling the communications. Carroll said he’s been holding out for as long as possible, hoping there’s a way for Seattle to keep Wagner in. Schneider said the organization owes Wagner better, noting one complicating factor in the situation – that he didn’t have the usual “barrier” that the agent provides between team and player because Wagner represented himself.
The Seahawks have not discussed a new contract with Wagner.
“Personally, I think after 10 years, I think it’s just a simple connection,” Wagner said. “I don’t think it has to be that hard. I watched their interview. I saw their apology and I’m grateful. But when they said that because I represented myself, I felt that part was weak…whether I had an agent or whether I had an agent, I still I feel like this is a conversation they could have had. That’s kind of a situation I’m in. I’m not going to get into it… They’ve already moved on. I’ve come forward, so that’s what it is at this point. I think 10 years later, they could have To be a simple conversation, even if they wanted to go in a different direction. I don’t I don’t think I presented myself playing any part on my part. It’s more of an end to it. They probably didn’t want to do it, they didn’t want to burn that bridge. But I feel that through This process and the last treatment [negotiating his record $54 million extension in 2019], I’ve demonstrated the ability to handle the tough conversations we’ve had, the tough conversations throughout my 10-year career there. So it’s easy to pick up the phone.
“I didn’t have to figure out the way I found out. But like I said, that’s what it is. I ended up in a great place.”
Wagner, who was chosen by the Seahawks in the second round in 2012, said he never thought he would leave Seattle and “always wanted” to be there. Once released by the Seahawks, he had to separate the feelings he was feeling as a player from the job he knew he had to do as his agent.
“The player took it personally, but the agent went to work,” he said. “So I just started calling the teams and communicating with the teams. I think a lot of the teams didn’t know I was representing myself. So I called the teams to make sure they knew I was the one they were going to get right in and the process started from there kind of. It was definitely stressful because as you I said, I’ve been in a place for 10 years and there was a notion that you didn’t think you’d leave and unfortunately it didn’t work out that way, but I ended up in a great place, closer to home and I’m excited.”
Wagner is from Ontario, California, about 50 miles east of SoFi Stadium. He still has family in the area, including an older nephew at his alma mater, Colony High School.
General Manager Les Snead said the Rams family “were not really planning to have the opportunity” to sign Wagner. When they found out he was interested in playing for Los Angeles, Snead said they had internal discussions about how to get Wagner and his fellow linebacker Ernest Jones On the court all together, a rookie Jones doesn’t want to lose out on playing time. Snead said they encouraged Wagner to take the time he needed to talk and visit with other teams, and told him they would be patient with their end.
Snead has always considered Wagner to be the one who got away. The Rams wanted to recruit him for the second or third round in 2012 under then coach Jeff Fisher, who was a huge fan. The Seattle punch hit them. That missed opportunity gave way to a new organizational philosophy of being bolder about the draft expectations they really wanted. They call it the “Bobby Wagner Base”.
“After about a thousand interventions, we get Bobby Wagner,” Snead said.
Wagner joins the receiver Allen Robinson II as big name additions to the roster that won Super Bowl LVI in February. But the rams suffered a lot of important subtractions, too. Coach Sean McVeigh said part of the appeal with Wagner is that he helps fill the leadership vacuum created by the departure of left-back Andrew Whitworth (retired), outside full-back. von miller (to buffalo bills in free agency) and safety Eric Weddell (retirement).
“There are two guys in this league that you have a chance to go to after games because you respect their work body, the way they handle not only physically but also mentally, and Bobby has always been one of those guys,” McVeigh said. “There’s a lot of respect for everything he’s been asked to do in this defensive system. It’s definitely the advantage of not having to play against him. He’s one of those people who can fit into any kind of system.”
Wagner was asked if he thought his relationship with the Seahawks would eventually be repaired.
“At some point,” he said. “I have no hatred for Seattle. I have no hatred for Seahawks. I think Pete, John, [Jody Allen, the team’s de facto owner]. All these guys, they are amazing. They treated me well while I was there. So like I said, I have no hate in my heart. Didn’t I appreciate how they dealt with that? I messaged them. I told them I didn’t appreciate how they handled it. So, it is what it is. It’s not something I’m going to sit here and use as motivation. Regardless of whether I play somewhere else or play there, I’m an enthusiastic person. I don’t need an extra incentive.
“But that game in Seattle is definitely going to be fun for sure.”
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”