Former Seattle Seahawks All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner was one of the headlining defensive names of this year’s free agency pool. Wagner, who does not have an agent and represents himself, joined Rich Eisen earlier this week to discuss his journey through free agency and eventual signing with the Los Angeles Rams.
Wagner signed a five-year, $50 million contract with the Rams after playing 10 NFL seasons in Seattle. The Rams were willing to give Wagner the bag, beating out several other franchises for his services. Wagner was raised in L.A., so that’s one thing the Rams had going for them besides the obvious of having just winning a Super Bowl. Dallas was one of the favorites to acquire Wagner. But of course, things didn’t work out that way for Cowboys fans.
Signing Wagner felt like a no-brainer for Jerry Jones, especially with Dan Quinn occupying the defensive coordinator role in Dallas. Quinn was Wagner’s coordinator in Seattle for his first three years in the NFL. So, if anyone would know how to implement Wagner and have him hit the ground running, it would be one of the architects of that Super Bowl-winning Seahawks defense.
“We had a lot of conversations, but they couldn’t, they didn’t really figure it out from a financial situation. But also, they had other needs that they wanted to address first. And they addressed those needs.”
Jerry really dropped the ball on this one. Sure, Wagner’s almost 32, but last season he recorded 93 solo tackles, his most since 2017. Wagner still has a few good years of football left in him, it would seem, and Jones passed on that because the price tag was too steep. But Jones has no problem paying a past-his-prime situational running back [cough Ezekiel Elliot cough] over $12 million in 2022. Somebody, please make that make sense.
This missed opportunity reminds me of all the rumors in 2009 about Ray Lewis potentially leaving Baltimore that offseason for Dallas. Ultimately Lewis stayed with the Ravens as they went on to win another Super Bowl a few years later. I’m not saying Wagner is Lewis, but when that type of game changer is available, you’ve got to do whatever it takes to get the job done if there is mutual interest.
There isn’t any doubt in my mind that Quinn couldn’t have figured out a way to insert Wagner into that Cowboys defense. I know they improved vastly last year, but you can always get better. It’s not like they had a deep postseason run, they got bounced in the Wild-Card round. But of course, Jones didn’t want to figure out how to get Bobby in under the salary cap. Yet Jones gave a big-money extension to a wide receiver that probably won’t be ready for the start of the season due to an ACL injury suffered late last season [cough Michael Gallup cough].
During his interview with Eisen, Wagner also commented on contacting (via text message) general managers directly, and how some of them didn’t believe it was him initially. He mentioned how they had to verify that it was indeed his cell number. It sounds kind of crazy, but that’s part of the process when you represent yourself.
While Wagner joining the Cowboys would have been great, all hope is not lost as Dallas is projected to take a linebacker (in some mock drafts) somewhere in next week’s draft. But the odds of finding a Micah Parsons-type player in back-to-back drafts are damn near impossible. And finding a college player that will immediately bring what Wagner would have been is far less likely.