Could be final season for Baldwin & Wagner, too

It’s looking more and more like K.J. Wright and Doug Baldwin are in their final seasons with the Seahawks — and, if the Hawks don’t want to pay Bobby Wagner again, he will have to join them.

The Seahawks created a lot of shockwaves when they separated from a handful of their Super Bowl stars earlier this year — a sudden about-face for John Schneider and Pete Carroll that showed they were ready to remake the team.

A lot of fans are going to hate this, but the smart ones will recognize the reality of it: Wagner, Baldwin and Wright all might join Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril as former Seahawks next year.

As great as they have been since they arrived in 2011, Wright and Baldwin are breaking down and no longer worth top dollar. So both figure to be gone after this season. And, if, as expected, the Hawks don’t intend to re-sign Wagner, they have to trade him.

Wright, 29, has missed most of the season nursing a knee problem he still has not overcome. He will be a free agent afterward, and it seems increasingly likely that his time with the Seahawks is about over. Even if he manages to come back healthy for the final month and the playoffs, the only way the team might re-sign him is if he takes a lot less than the $7.2 million he is making this season. 

While Baldwin apparently feels healthier than he has in months, the 30-year-old has fought through several injuries this year and now has another injury (groin). Sure, he might have a couple more productive years left, but the Hawks are unlikely to want to pay him his scheduled $10 million and $11 million in the next two years. So prepare for the prideful player to decline a pay cut next offseason and the Hawks to shop him and then, if they get no offers, release him.

The Seahawks just signed Tyler Lockett to a new deal worth over $10 million a year, and (no surprise) he has taken over as the team’s top receiver. David Moore (a big surprise) also has stepped up in his second season and could be the No. 2 next year if Baldwin is gone.

It would be nice to keep Baldwin, but not at the price he commands now. If he won’t take a cut, the Hawks should try to get what they can for him (probably just a mid-round pick) — and let him go if no team bites.

The Hawks also should try to trade Wagner, who is the only guy of value playing at a high level (despite Seattle’s poor run defense).

We originally assumed the Hawks would want to pay Wagner along with Russell Wilson, Thomas and Wright — just like we initially thought Sherman and Bennett would be on the team this year. But Schneider and Carroll clearly are moving on from their first Super Bowl core.

The Hawks cut ties with Sherman and Bennett and have chosen not to pay Thomas and Wright, so it follows that they won’t want to pay Wagner top dollar anymore as he approaches his eighth season at age 29. It’s the same thinking that made them decide against paying Thomas after Chancellor was injured just months into his second big extension with the team (and then was validated when Thomas was lost for the year again).

If the Hawks don’t want to pay him, they need to get what they can for him — rather than repeat the Thomas holdout saga (and Wagner almost certainly would hold out for an extension). He is still one of the best middle linebackers in the league, so Seattle should be able to get a second-rounder and mid-rounder for him. Those picks would help fortify a 2019 draft stock that has shrunk to a first, third, fourth and fifth.

The Hawks need to improve their D-line, which means paying their star pass rusher, Frank Clark, and adding veterans inside and out while drafting a pass rusher, too. At middle linebacker, Austin Calitro could battle another cheaper vet for Wagner’s spot.

If the Hawks were able to trade Baldwin and Wagner, they would net over $18 million in cap space and likely enter the draft with a full complement of picks. They could then afford, if they so chose, to sign a young free-agent pass rusher (if any good ones were left after franchise tags) — maybe Dee Ford, Jadeveon Clowney or Za’Darius Smith — to pair with Clark.

Plenty of fans who have grown to love Carroll’s First Edition Seahawks will consider it blasphemy to propose trades of Wagner and Baldwin. But Schneider and Carroll obviously are creating a Second Edition, and the smart move would be to get what they can for the aging, expensive stars they probably aren’t going to pay anyway.

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8 thoughts on “Could be final season for Baldwin & Wagner, too”

  1. Baldwin and Wright are both gone after this season. It never made sense to let Thomas go and extend Wright except on very team-friendly terms. It wouldn’t be a surprise if KJ retired — with a SB ring and career earnings of $30M, there’s little reason to cripple himself when he is past his earnings peak.

    I’ve already expressed my concerns about Baldwin. He may decide to move on from football as well and pursue his social justice concerns, although pride may drive him to try and go out on a high note somewhere. Doug is a guy who wants to make a difference wherever he is.

    Bobby is harder to swallow: Continuing to play at a very high level and no significant injury concerns. Still, it’s an open question as to how much they need him. PC seems to have determined that under the current rules, the best defense is a ball-control offense that minimizes opponent possessions. Maybe all you need out of a defense today is one good enough to make a few stops. In that case, do you need a dominant middle linebacker?

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    1. Before this season, my thoughts were to build the next generation defense around Thomas and Wagner, and ride them for as far as they would go. Without Earl, though, it’s hard to see paying KJ or Bobby.

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  2. Paul, you sound like a frigging moron! You act like you know what the Hawks are going to do? How the hell would you know their thoughts on any of the players you mentioned? Wagner is the best Middle linebacker in the league again and KJ is the ultimate team player as well as Baldwin. This is the stretch run and KJ and Baldwin will play like crazy for the Hawks and be rewarded as well as Clark and Wagner and RW. The Hawks will have the ninth most cap space in 2019 and can sign ad resign whoever they want. You have no knowledge of their intentions and you speak as if you do. Joke of an article, trying to get a reaction and you did. Good job but faulty reasoning. Go Hawks!

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  3. It’s not nice to call Paul a moron, esp. when he didn’t write the post. … You can hope the Hawks will keep those guys, but just look at how they have handled the roster recently and you will see that these are pretty well-informed guesses about what they will do …

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    1. LOL! Luckily I have a thick skin!

      In my experience, Chris has a pretty high batting average when it comes to predicting roster decisions. I don’t always share his view but respect it because it’s based on considered judgment.

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  4. I get letting Wright walk and cutting Baldwin, but that allows both guys to sign with who ever they want. Wags atleast deserves to give them a list of teams he’d like to play for if they do decide to trade rather than sign. Bobby has been to good of a player and teammate to just be shipped off to Buffalo.

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