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Should The Eagles Pursue Bobby Wagner?

With the report that Bobby Wagner is set to be released by Seattle, should the Eagles go after the veteran linebacker?

On Tuesday 8th March, the Seattle Seahawks released Bobby Wagner, officially stripping the team of any members of the Super Bowl XLVIII winning roster. The six-time First-Team All-Pro selection played ten seasons with the team, notching more than 100 tackles in every season. He has made eight consecutive Pro Bowl rosters and will go down in history as one of the Seattle’s greatest players.

Why Wagner?

Wagner is a do-it-all veteran defensive leader. He is a ferocious field general, capable of shedding blocks, gliding from sideline to sideline and disrupting opponent’s offensive schemes. He has contributed in every major statistical category during his career.

His diversity of skill creates havoc for offensive coordinators league wide. Through his ten-year career, Wagner has had 23.5 sacks and 68 tackles for loss, utilizing his 6’0″, 242 lbs. frame to slash through gaps and frequently occupy the backfield. He also has 11 career interceptions and four defensive touchdowns. He can make plays in coverage or in space.

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Wagner has the potential to really kickstart the change in defensive identity for the Eagles. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon loves to rush four and drop seven and needs to have better linebackers to make instinctive plays around the field. Wagner not only provides that but can teach emerging starter T.J. Edwards and likely first-round pick Nakobe Dean or Devin Lloyd.

Why Was Wagner Released?

Bobby Wagner’s release was inevitable at this point. The move saves the Seahawks $16.6 million in cap space and offers them further avenues to begin a rebuild. He simply does not fit the roster after the trade of superstar quarterback Russell Wilson. The move allows the Seahawks to explore younger players in free agency.

Furthermore, the Seahawks may have their eyes on premier defenders and offensive linemen with their newly acquired first- and second-round picks in the draft. Their first-round draft pick will be ninth overall and will allow them to take a franchise starter and best player available. Wagner does not fit into the long-term plans for a team that is in fire sale mode for draft capital and youth.

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The move gives the Seahawks almost $50 million in cap space entering free agency.

What Will It Take?

Despite the fact he will turn 32 this upcoming season, Wagner will be a hot commodity in free agency. The perennial Pro-Bowler has the ability to produce at a high level while simultaneously mentoring young linebackers. Furthermore, he should continue that high production throughout a two- or three-year contract.

Wagner will likely seek something in the range of a two-year, $28 million deal in free agency. While he is entering the twilight of his career, the Eagles should most certainly place a bid. They can have him produce effectively at off-ball linebacker with their premium draft pick lining up in the middle.

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If the Eagles are able to sign him, his statistical production will likely be secondary to his mentorship. The signing may be the catalyst for a flier on Day Three of the NFL Draft.

Look for the Eagles to explore the upside of Jack Sanborn, linebacker out of Wisconsin. This overlooked linebacking prospect ended his final season of college with an 85.4 PFF (Pro-Football Focus) pass rush grade and an 84.8 PFF rush defense grade. If Wagner can develop Sanborn’s 64.1 PFF pass coverage grade, he will be developing his own replacement to start after he retires.

The Offer

Hopefully, Bobby Wagner is an Eagle next year.

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Expect the Birds to offer a two-year, $30 million deal to strengthen a significant defensive weakness into a strength. Linebacker play will enhance Gannon’s scheme exponentially, and Wagner will pay his value in more than just tackles.

Written By

Australian NFL Fan, who is passionate about his beloved Philadelphia Eagles. Follows both NFL and NBA and loves to analyse, talk about and watch sport.

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