Bobby Wagner put pen to paper on Monday afternoon, as he signed his contract with the Los Angeles Rams and officially became a member of one of Seattle’s biggest rivals.
While a twice-a-year chance for Seattle to prove the team made a mistake in its release last month would provide one of the most intriguing story lines of the 2022 season, Wagner insisted a return to the Seahawks wasn’t his only motivation. Signing with rams.
“I don’t have a lot of hate in my heart,” Wagner told reporters in Los Angeles at a news conference to announce his signature.
All things equal, Wagner said the chance to play the Seahawks was “the cherry on top.”
And he insists that when he does – dates and times for matches are expected next month – he will show the Seahawks that he’s still the same player he always has been.
“I’ll make sure they know where I am,” Wagner said. “It wouldn’t be a quiet game for me.”
The Seahawks released Wagner on March 8, saving $16.6 million against the maximum salary, and they feel he’s now 31-32 in June – no longer worthy of the contract that when he signed him in 2019 made him the highest-paid in-house player. In NFL history an average of $18 million a year.
While Wagner’s contract with Rams was initially announced as a five-year deal worth up to $50 million with incentives of up to $65 million, the final numbers released after his signing on Monday were less lofty.
According to NFL Media, Pro Football Talk and other outlets, the deal guarantees Wagner $6.5 million in the first year, which consists of a $5 million signing bonus and a $1.5 million guaranteed salary. The deal also includes an outstanding bonus of $3.5 million maturing on April 8, 2023.
But with no money guaranteed after the second season, the contract is functionally a two-year deal with total warranties of $10 million, and a total value of $17.5 million with incentives that could push it up to $23.5 million. The last three years are on the list of unsecured bonuses and salaries. The deal also includes a host of incentives, including $1 million in any season he’s his first All-Pro team.
As reported by PFT, Wagner could choose to opt out of the last three years if he takes the Pro Bowl in the first two.
Wagner, who once again served as his agent, reportedly turned down a better deal from the Ravens — a two-year, $18 million fully guaranteed contract, according to Pro Football Talk — to sign the Rams, a move that also marked a homecoming like he was born in Los Angeles and went To high school in nearby Ontario.
“The player took it personal, but the agent went to work,” Wagner said of the way he handled matters after his release by Seattle, saying on Monday he was immediately contacted by Rams defenders, Galen Ramsey and Aaron Donald about Coming to Los Angeles.
The Seahawks offered Wagner a restructured contract prior to his release and no chance of a comeback after he was cut, with general manager John Schneider saying at NFL meetings last week that the team was “moving in” with Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton as its inner players.
Three days after his release, Wagner tweeted, “A crazy part of it all. I’ve played there for 10 years and haven’t even heard from them that I won’t be back.”
Both Schneider and coach Pete Carroll later said they would take the blame for the lack of communication in informing Wagner that he had been cut. Carroll said one reason is his desire for the team to explore each option before making a decision, which delays the process.
Schneider noted that Wagner acts as his agent and that the issues are somewhat complex as well. He said a separate agent would have acted as a “bulk” for Wagner as the team considers his options, including trying to trade him.
It’s kind of embarrassing when a player is representing themselves,” Schneider said. “…to reach out to someone and say there might be a potential deal, are you thinking about it? And then (the trade falls apart and) that player comes back to you, you know, that’s not a good situation.”
In his first substantive comments on the matter on Monday, Wagner said while he was “grateful” for what they said, he didn’t buy that excuse, calling it “weak.”
Wagner told reporters in Los Angeles, “I think after 10 years, it would have been a simple conversation. Even if they wanted to go in different directions, I don’t think I represented myself playing any part on my part. It was more on their end. Maybe they didn’t want to.” in doing that. Maybe they want to kind of burn that bridge. But I feel that with this process and the last one (his negotiations with Seattle over his 2019 contract) I’ve shown the ability to handle difficult conversations throughout my time there. So it was easy to just pick up Phone and call. I shouldn’t have figured out the way I found out. But it is what it is and I ended up in a great place and now I’m working on getting black shirts here.”
That last comment was a reference to something Wagner said was a target of him with Seattle for the Seahawks to wear black jerseys.
If he got it done in Los Angeles, it would be with a different number. Wagner wore a 54 with the Seahawks, numbers adding to his college number (9), which when he entered the NFL in 2012, he wasn’t able to wear with Seattle. The rules have changed since then. But number 9 in Los Angeles by quarterback Matthew Stafford and 54 by veteran linebacker Leonard Floyd. So Wagner must wear 45, which still equals nine, a number he also wore at the Senior Bowl in 2012.