Bobby Wagner fired a couple of warning shots at John Schneider on Wednesday — well-placed markers that should have buzzed right by each of the GM’s ears.
Wagner’s messages to Schneider: (1) Make sure you re-sign K.J. Wright and (2) get ready to pay me a lot of money next year. Wright is in the final year of his contract, and Wagner will be up for an extension next offseason, entering the final year of his deal.
There apparently have been no talks between the Seahawks and Wright to this point, which seems to indicate that Schneider is willing to let the 29-year-old star leave rather than pay top dollar next offseason. That would fit Schneider’s new MO of not paying third contracts to the team’s Super Bowl core.
We have already firmly stated we are in favor of extending Wright, a savvy, durable leader who should be good for four more years because his game is not based on speed.
Wagner made it clear he will be watching how the team handles Wright — and don’t be surprised if that affects whether he is amenable to a new deal next year.
“If you let a guy like that walk away, it will be telling,” Wagner said. “People watch and see how you move, so you can’t let a guy like that — a leader like that, a person who’s doing everything right, that you don’t have to worry about off the field, that you know is going to take everything on the field — you can’t let a guy like that walk away.”
The Seahawks have tons of cap room next year, so they certainly can afford to pay Wright, who is finishing a four-year, $27 million deal and probably would take about the same amount in another extension.
Wagner, meanwhile, will continue to command top dollar — something he made clear while discussing Earl Thomas’ holdout.
“I think you see it a lot right now from the defensive side: You have amazing players that are not getting paid or not getting their money,” Wagner said, obviously referring to star holdouts Thomas, Aaron Donald (Rams) and Khalil Mack (Raiders). “I feel like defensive players do need to stand their ground just to show that we’re just as important. You see all the offensive guys getting paid, and we’re just as important.
“At some point, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do business-wise, because our years are numbered,” Wagner added. “I think (Thomas has) been in the league eight or nine years; you don’t know how many more years you’ve got. You’ve got to make sure you take care of the business side, and unfortunately that sometimes comes in the way of playing on the field.”
Schneider should take that as a huge hint about how he needs to handle Wagner next offseason. Wagner, 28, is in Year 3 of a four-year, $43 million deal and probably will command around $12 million APY on an extension. Schneider needs to pay it.
The Seahawks also will be negotiating with Russell Wilson next offseason, so they will have to pay their leaders on both sides of the ball. But, it’s the price of doing business in the NFL — and they can certainly afford it.
The question, though: Will Wagner’s price go up if Wright is not re-signed? Will he want to stay if Wright joins the exodus of Wagner’s Super Bowl teammates?
“I want to be here for my whole career — that’s a goal of mine,” Wagner said. “I also understand the business. Hopefully I play with K.J. my whole career — that is a goal of mine as well. … But, we’ll see what happens.”