RENTON -- Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner knows exactly what he's worth and has a plan in place to see that worth be rewarded.
Wagner was on hand for the first open OTA practice accessible to reporters on Tuesday. Wagner was not participating and has no intentions of doing so until he gets a new contract from the Seahawks. Wagner, who turns 29 in June, is set to enter the final year of his contract with the Seahawks this fall.
Unlike the route his former teammate Earl Thomas took last year, Wagner fully intends to be present for team workouts. He just won't be taking part.
“I will be here — that will be my participation,’’ Wagner said. “I will be here helping the young guys, doing whatever I can. … You want to send the right message. You want to support the guys. I do feel like the quarterback of the defense is pretty important, so not having that piece would put a damper on the defense. I just feel like it’s important for our success, so I’m here."
Wagner is serving as his own agent as he represents himself in contract negotiations, which adds another level of uncertainty to negotiations. An agent can serve as a buffer between player and team when the team is trying to negotiate the best deal for themselves and making arguments as to why a player isn't worth what he wants.
What Wagner wants to be the highest paid linebacker in the NFL.
The New York Jets gave C.J. Mosley a five-year deal worth $85 million with $51 million guaranteed. At an average of $17 million a year, Mosley's deal massively raised the bar of contracts at the linebacker position in the NFL. Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers had been the previous benchmark at $12.4 million a year. While Mosley is a very good player, Wagner is more accomplished in nearly every aspect. He's also well aware of the contract Mosley received and how that relates to his own upcoming negotiations.
“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.”
“I know my value,’’ he said. “Nobody has to tell me my value. I know my value, so no team, no person, no agent, can tell me my value and I believe in myself. I bet on myself and either way to me it’s a win. You get a contract, you win. You don’t, it’s a learning experience, so you win. A lot of people are not willing to take that chance. I am.’’
Head coach Pete Carroll didn't want to discuss anything specifically related to Wagner's negotiations or contract status, but he did say he was glad that Wagner had decided to show up for workouts and that they are on schedule with addressing Wagner's contract.
"He's doing what he has always done. He's been a leader, he's been an integral part of everything that we've ever been about and he's continuing to do that. The decision to do what he's doing at this tempo is a good decision for him," Carroll said.
“If you have watched us, as you have, all through the offseason, it’s been a process of step-by-step and we are right in stride with the process,’’ Carroll said. “Bobby has been great, everything is going to come together in time… everything is in order, we are in order with what we want to do and it feels very comfortable and very amicable and all that, so everything is going just right.’’
Like Carroll, Wagner didn't want to discuss specifics either. He only said that some talks have occurred between the two sides. Wagner has watched former teammates Russell Okung and Richard Sherman serve as their own agents. He's watched Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas hold out without getting the new contracts they were seeking at the time. He's seen Chancellor, Michael Bennett, K.J. Wright and others show up in the final years of their deal with varying amounts of success in leveraging new deals. But Wagner knows his situation will be different and that he'll have to chart his own path in how he handles negotiations.
“Every situation is different,’’ Wagner said. “… So you pay attention to them, but we haven’t talked much about it. This has been my decision and you know I learned from them but they are not helping me with this. This is myself.’’
Photo Credit: Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner chats with reporters following an offseason practice on May 21, 2019. (photo by Curtis Crabtree / Sports Radio 950 KJR)