K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner have played next to each other for seven straight years in the middle of the Seattle Seahawks defense. The two are close friends and have an innate sense for what the other will do on the football field without even needed to verbalize what they’re seeing from opposing offenses.
So when Wright says he expects with 100 percent confidence that Wagner will remain with the Seahawks beyond the 2019 season, it’s worth taking at face value.
“Bobby knows what he is doing,’’ Wright said following practice on Wednesday. “It’s going to be really exciting to see everything pan out. He’s going to be a Seahawk for life. Go get a hell of a deal done. So I’m excited to see how it all turns out.’’
It’s a bit of role reversal from last year when Wagner was campaigning for the Seahawks to keep Wright after his contract expired in March. After a brief testing of the waters in free agency, Wright re-signed with the team on a two-year deal. However, the price of keeping Wagner is probably far different from what the team had anticipated prior to the start of free agency.
C.J. Mosley‘s new contract with the New York Jets reset the bar for middle linebackers in the NFL at $17 million a season. The deal is worth a total of $85 million with $43 million guaranteed over five years. Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers had previously been the bar at an average of $12.4 million per year. Wagner, who is serving as his own agent, said last week that he intends to surpass Mosley’s number.
“I mean, the number is the number, the market is the market. That’s the top (of the) linebacker market,” Wagner said. “That is the standard. And so that is the plan to break that.”
Knowing where the price for Wagner had gone following the Mosley deal may have been some of the impetus for Seattle trading Frank Clark to Kansas City prior to the draft as well. Between Wagner and Clark, Wagner may have been the greater priority. And in addition to Wagner, the Seahawks have to make a decision on defensive tackle Jarran Reed as well, who had 10.5 sacks last season.
Nevertheless, Wright still believes the Seahawks and Wagner will make sure he remains as the center of Seattle’s defense well beyond the upcoming season.
“A hundred percent,” Wright said. The Seahawks know the defense wins football games and if you want to have a chance at keeping this franchise successful (and) making the playoffs. You’ve got to get the best linebacker in the game signed. It’s a no-brainer to me. Healthy, balling… all the signs to me say get it done.”