The Los Angeles Rams and linebacker Bobby Wagner agreed to mutually part ways on Thursday, according to multiple reports. Wagner will officially become a free agent in March despite signing a five-year, $50 million contract with the Rams last offseason. Wagner immediately becomes one of the most notable linebackers set to reach free agency.
The aging Wagner is still playing at an extremely high level. Wagner recorded 140 tackles, two interceptions, and a career-high 6.0 sacks in 2022. His services will be in demand after being an All-Pro selection for the ninth consecutive season. Wagner’s mutual split from the Rams indicates he wants to play for a playoff contender. We’ve swiftly identified four potential landing spots for Wagner in free agency.
NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants possess a fourth-ranked $43.3 million in cap space. While the majority of those funds will disappear if they re-sign Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, both deals should be structured in a manner that allows general manager Joe Schoen to attack other areas of need. That will especially be the case if Jones and Barkley sign long-term deals that defer the majority of the money to future campaigns.
The Giants shocked the footballing nation by qualifying for the 2022 postseason. Expectations will be higher in 2023 as the Giants are now perceived as playoff contenders. Wagner embraced an opportunity to play for a gigantic media market like Los Angeles. He could possess similar feelings toward New York.
Stopping the run against the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles are crucial keys to victory within the division. The Giants have sizable holes at inside linebacker with Jaylon Smith, Jarrad Davis, and Landon Collins set for free agency.
Wouldn’t this be something? Wagner departed the Seahawks last offseason when everybody perceived Seattle was in rebuild mode following the trade of Russell Wilson. A breakout campaign by new starting quarterback Geno Smith changed everything. The Seahawks made the playoffs and should firmly be in contention next season as well.
Re-signing Smith is now general manager John Schneider’s top priority, but Schneider possesses more than $30 million in cap space. Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers are Seattle’s main adversaries in the NFC West. The 49ers aren’t going to stop running the football anytime soon. Wagner would be a worthy investment for a Seahawks defense that lost Jordyn Brooks to a torn ACL in Week 17.
I’m not convinced the Cowboys will possess the financial wiggle room necessary to pursue Wagner. The Cowboys are currently $7.6 million above the cap and must make sizable decisions regarding the futures of Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, and Dak Prescott this offseason. But I also know that defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is a massive fan of Wagner. This may fall into by-any-means-necessary territory for the Cowboys.
Quinn spent two seasons (2013-14) as Wagner’s defensive coordinator in Seattle and the pair won Super Bowl XLVIII together. The Cowboys showed interest in Wagner last summer due to Quinn’s presence. Leighton Vander Esch and Anthony Barr played the 2022 campaign on expiring contracts. Expect Dallas to get into the mix here if it’s financially possible.
The Lions barely missed the postseason in 2022 after winning six of their final seven contests. Head coach Dan Campbell is a hard-nosed defensive-minded leader that’s changed the culture in Detroit. Campbell’s presence alone could intrigue Wagner.
Malcolm Rodriguez is a legitimate starter, but the Lions could pair him with a high-level veteran. Alex Anzalone was on a one-year contract. The Lions could upgrade the position by replacing Anzalone with Wagner.
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