On the first unofficial day of free agency, the Seahawks suffered three expected losses and prepared to lose longtime stalwarts Earl Thomas and K.J. Wright.
But the biggest — maybe most unexpected — thing they learned: Bobby Wagner is going to cost a lot to keep beyond 2019. After Kwon Alexander and C.J. Mosley get paid this week, Wagner’s price is going to vault beyond $15 million a year.
Based on his current play, Wagner is worth every bit as much as fellow Pro Bowl linebacker Mosley, who got $17 million per year from the Jets. But are the Hawks going to want to pay a 29-year-old middle linebacker that kind of money, hoping he will continue that level of play through his early 30s?
John Schneider has reversed course on third contracts the past couple of years, making it seem like a good bet he won’t want to shell out that kind of cash for the last member of the legendary Legion of Boom defense.
But Wagner is different than malcontents Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas: He wants to be in Seattle, he has been a better leader and team player than that trio, and he hasn’t had any major injuries. Will all of that make Schneider consider re-extending Wagner at top-of-market rate one more time?
It really comes down to whether Schneider thinks Wagner can be an ageless wunderbacker, just like London Fletcher (Pro Bowls at ages 34-37), Sam Mills (Pro Bowl at age 37), Ray Lewis (Pro Bowls at ages 31-36), Brian Urlacher (Pro Bowls at ages 32-33) and Zach Thomas (Pro Bowls at ages 32-33).
Wagner looks good for it. He has had no major injuries. He missed five games with a sprained toe in 2014 and struggled to play through a hamstring injury in 2017. But he has missed just nine games in his seven seasons and seems built — both in body and play style — to last into his 30s.
Even after keeping a couple of offensive linemen, adding a defensive tackle and pass rusher, and extending Russell Wilson and Jarran Reed, the Hawks could afford to pay Wagner at $15 million.
But will he want even more? And will Schneider care to pay him that much?