Interviewing Bobby Wagner # 54 of the Seattle Seahawks after training at a training camp in Renton, Washington on July 29, 2021.
Alika Jenner | Getty Images
NFL linebacker Bobby Wagner wanted another challenge as he prepared for life after football. So he represented himself in the 2022 free agent market after being released in a cost-saving move by the Seattle Seahawks.
On Monday, Wagner, 31, agreed to a five-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams that could reach 65 million. The deal includes team- and player-based incentives that Wagner calls “credible.” He called it “a victory for me and a victory for them.”
In an interview with CNBC on Monday night, Wagner discussed his new contract and explained why he had re-negotiated the terms without using an agent. This is not the first time Wagner has been chosen to step down, but he acknowledged that this was a difficult time.
“But,” he said, “I always wanted to challenge myself, not just on the football field, but off the football field.”
Keeping emotions away
March 11 Wagner tweeted, “Crazy part about all this,” “I’ve played there for 10 years and I haven’t even heard from them that I’m not coming back.”
That Twitter response came just days after reports surfaced that the Seahawks would release the eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker. The cutthroat move saved the team 16 million. Along with Rams, NFC West is rebuilding the rival club. They also traded their Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos. Head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Snyder have blamed Wagner for the lack of communication.
On Monday night, Wagner explained his frustration with how the Seahawks handled the matter.
“I never wanted to leave,” Wagner told CNBC. “I planned to play my whole career there. So, when it happened, you were disappointed, and then adding how you found out, you’re even more disappointed.” Wagner added that he “took a minute to get the feelings out and then locked up.”
Asked to comment on the matter, a Seahawks spokesman emailed CNBC, “Great player, congratulations to him.”
Seahawks drafted Wagner in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He has represented himself in contract negotiations since 2015 when he signed a 43 million contract with Seahawks.
This time, of course, was different.
“The first time was a little easier because I knew the history of the team, the GM and the club,” Wagner said. “Free agency was a little different this time around because you have to reach out to all GMs – that was another challenge I wanted to take on my own.”
The NFL Players Association maintains a list of contact information for general managers. Wagner received the list and “I started sending texts and emails reminding the teams I represent and they can reach me if they want my services,” he said.
Jeremy McNicols # 28K of the Tennessee Titans faced fourth quarter quarterback Bobby Wagner # 54 of the Seattle Seahawks on September 19, 2021 at Seattle’s Lumen Field in Washington.
Abbie Parr | Getty Images
65 million inside the contract
Wagner said he has examined past contracts for linebackers, player statistics and current NFL contracts to help set his standards. Another stigma he has to overcome is age.
Wagner said older linebackers are not properly valued because of age because teams favor younger players. But he did mention other Pro Bowl linebackers who “played better than the 31-year-old”, including Baltimore Ravens icon Ray Lewis, who retired at the age of 37. 38, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks until 35.
“The idea is that you can’t play as long as you want,” Wagner said.
Teams including Ravens and Dallas Cowboys have arrived. During the talks, the parties “had to overcome the notion that if they send less or send something that may not be interesting to me, it is going to be offensive,” Wagner said.
“I felt like I was in a good situation where I knew how to handle my emotions and I was at some point in my career,” he added. “I just wanted to get the right deal for me.”
Rams proposed that deal.
Wagner’s contract is indeed a five-year, $ 50 million deal that could reach $ 65 million if he gets the incentive. This includes Wagner’s 90% defensive snap game; The Rams playoffs and finishes in the top five. Other extras include a $ 10 million roster bonus and another Pro Bowl selection, according to Spotrack, a website that tracks sports deals.
“They’re very achievable incentives,” he said. Wagner added: “To find out which team you are working with, you need to study the team pay cap space. Some teams do not have cap space, and some do not have the flexibility to work with numbers. So in the end, you have to build your market.”
The Super Bowl champion Rams’ contract also met other criteria: Wagner, a Los Angeles native, gets to play at home. And he plans to have a residence in Seattle.
Wagner added that he had a real flirtation with the Cowboys. “It was a real thing. We had a conversation. I love it [Cowboys defensive coordinator] There’s a lot of respect for Dan Quinn and him. But we could not agree on their needs and what they were willing to spend. But there were mutual interests, “he said.
“Between the Rams and the Cowboys – they’re a team that has a long history and a lot of history,” Wagner added. “Being able to be a part of any of these franchises increases your notoriety. And I land in one.”
Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks extends # 54 before playing against the Green Bay Packers at Lambo Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin on September 10, 2017.
Joe Robbins | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images
Wagner aims to be president of an NFL team
In discussing his decision to represent himself, Wagner requested an end to the “hate or I feel negative” description of using NFL agents. “At the end of the day, I don’t do it to tell agents. I do it to grow.”
Also, Wagner said he was able to build more relationships with NFL team executives and learn more about the business of football. The goal here is to position yourself as a future team president.
Wagner will be one of the few black team presidents in NFL history to reach that goal.
In NFL 2020, Washington adds its first black team president to Commander Jason Wright. Recruiting The Ravens II in February 2022, the NFL and NBA team brought in executive Sashi Brown. And across pro basketball, the NBA has dropped from the CEO of a league-high seven black team in 2007 to just three now. And the MLB has lost its first black chief executive since Derek Jeter, CEO of the Miami Marlins, resigned.
Wagner noted that most players go into coaching or media after their careers. But his goal is more.
“People put you in that box,” Wagner said. “I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s the box we keep. They put us in this box where we can’t be president or CEO, and it’s like, ‘If I can’t, why? Understand the business?’
He further explained: “What happens to players is that we get stuck in our bubble. We get stuck in our world, and no matter how long you play – three years or 10 – we get so stuck and think that the world is a certain way.” Then when we get to the real world, we feel nothing but being part of the football team. “
Wagner added, “If I start where I am, understand the business and understand what happens in the locker room, it makes me more valuable.”