Overall All-Pro defender Bobby Wagner says he has no hatred for the Seattle Seahawks, but still believes they should have treated his release differently.
And he considers the opportunity to play with his old team twice a year a nice bonus to signing with the Los Angeles Rams, even if it wasn’t the reason he joined rivals for the Seattle Division.
“A lot of people think it affected the fact that I was able to play Seahawks,” Wagner said Monday in his introductory video conference with Rams. “I don’t have a lot of hatred in my heart. I think I really wanted to be happy, I wanted to be close to home and stay on the West Coast. It was important to me. But playing Seahawks twice a year was a cherry on top, and I will make sure they see me every time we play them. 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 to reporters for the first time after agreeing last week to a five-year contract for $ 50 million with reigning Super Cup champions. A source told ESPN that the deal, which Wagner himself negotiated, includes $ 20 million in guarantees, as well as incentives that allow him to earn up to $ 23.5 million in the first two seasons.
The 31-year-old Wagner became a free agent for the first time in his career when the Seahawks released him last month, completing a 10-year session in Seattle that included eight Pro Bowls, six All-Pro first qualifiers, a Super Bowl championship and a record on the franchise 1383 rebounds.
And one messy break.
The Seahawks informed Wagner that he was being released before Adam Schaefer of ESPN reported the news, but Wagner had already realized the team’s plan to move on with the young players as a midfielder. He expressed his indignation via Twitter and directly in front of the team.
Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have taken the blame for improper communication management. Carol said she is holding out as long as possible, hoping Seattle will find a way to keep Wagner. Schneider said the organization owes Wagner better, noting one difficult factor in the situation – that he didn’t have the usual “buffer” that the agent provides between the team and the player because Wagner represents himself.
The new contract with Wagner “Seahawks” was not discussed.
“Personally, I think in 10 years it’s simple communication,” Wagner said. “I don’t think it should be that difficult. I watched their interviews. I saw their apologies and I’m grateful. But when they said it was because I introduced myself, I felt it was the weak part. .. Whether I had an agent or not, I still feel like it was a conversation they could have. That’s how I feel about it. I’m not going to stop there. .. They’ve already gone on. I’ve gone on, so that’s what there is at the moment. I just think that 10 years from now it could have been a simple conversation, even if they wanted to go the other way. I didn’t “No think that I, representing myself, played some role on my part. It’s more on their side. Maybe they didn’t want to do it, didn’t want to burn this bridge. But I feel that this process and the last process has passed [negotiating his record $54 million extension in 2019], I showed the ability to handle the difficult conversations we had, the tough conversations throughout my 10-year career. So just pick up the phone.
“I didn’t have to find out the way I learned. But like I said, that’s what there is. I ended up in a great place.”
Wagner, selected by the Seahawks in the second round in 2012, said he never thought he was going to leave Seattle and “always wanted” to be there. Once the Seahawks released him, he had to separate the emotions he felt as a player from the work he knew he had to perform as his own agent.
“The player took it personally, but the agent just went to work,” he said. “So I just started calling teams and contacting teams. I think a lot of teams didn’t know I was representing myself. So I contacted the teams to make sure they knew I was the person they were going to approach. It was definitely stressful because, as I said, you were in place for 10 years, and there was a thought that you didn’t think you were going to leave and unfortunately it didn’t work out. but I found myself in a great place, closer to home, and I’m excited. ”
Wagner is originally from Ontario, California, about 50 miles east of SoFi Stadium. He still has a family in the area, including a nephew who is studying at his alma mater, a high school colony.
General manager Les AIDS said Reims “didn’t really plan an opportunity” to sign Wagner. When they learned he was interested in playing in Los Angeles, AIDS said they had internal discussions about how they could bring Wagner and his linebacker Ernest Jones to the field together, not wanting the future Jones to waste playing time . AIDS said they encouraged Wagner to take the time he needed to talk and visit other teams, and told him to be patient on his part.
AIDS has long considered Wagner to be a fugitive. The Rams wanted to draft him in the second or third round in 2012 under then-coach Jeff Fisher, who was a big fan. Seattle punched them. This missed opportunity has given way to a new organizational philosophy – to be more aggressive in calling for the prospects they really want. They call it “Bobby Wagner’s rule.”
“After a thousand selections,” said AIDS, “we’ll get Bobby Wagner.”
Wagner joins receiver Allen Robinson II in addition to the list that won the LVI Super Cup in February. But the Rams have also suffered many significant deductions. Coach Sean McVeigh said part of the appeal to Wagner is that he is helping to fill the void of leadership created by the departure of left-back Andrew Whitworth (retired), outside linebacker von Miller (the Buffalo Bills in the free agency) and security Eric Weddle (retirement). ).
“In this league there are a couple of guys that you have the opportunity to go to after games because you respect their work, the way they approach it not only physically but also mentally, and Bobby has always been one of those guys.” – McVeigh said. “Just a lot of respect for everything he’s been asked to do in this defense system. It’s definitely an advantage when you don’t have to play against him. He’s one of those guys who can fit into any system.”
Wagner was asked if he thought his relationship with the Seahawks would eventually improve.
“At some point,” he said. “I don’t hate Seattle. I don’t hate the Seahawks. I think Pete, John, [Jody Allen, the team’s de facto owner]. All these guys, they’re awesome. They treated me well while I was there. So, as I said, I have no hatred in my heart. Didn’t I appreciate how they handled it? I texted them. I made it clear to them that I didn’t appreciate how they handled it. So it is. It’s not something I’m going to sit here and use as motivation. Whether I’m playing somewhere else or playing there, I’m a motivated person. I don’t need extra motivation.
“But the game in Seattle will definitely be interesting.”