Seahawks rule out Bobby Wagner, 2 others for season finale vs Cardinals
The Seahawks will go into their 2021 season finale without one of the greatest players in franchise history as middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, the team’s defensive captain, has been ruled out of the contest against the Arizona Cardinals.
Wagner, 31, entered Week 17 with an NFL-leading 170 tackles, but injured his knee on his very first defensive snap. Wagner suffered sprained ligaments in one knee, but he told reporters earlier this week that he was aiming to play in the season finale.
That won’t happen, though, as Wagner has been ruled out along with starting right tackle Brandon Shell (shoulder) and cornerback John Reid (concussion).
For Wagner, it’s the first game he’s missed since 2018.
Head coach Pete Carroll on Friday told reporters that Wagner wasn’t close enough to play, otherwise they would have listed him differently.
“If he could, if there was any kind of way, he would. But he can’t,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks also listed defensive end Carlos Dunlap (ankle), tight end Will Dissly (heel) and right guard Gabe Jackson (knee) as questionable to play.
With Jackson, Carroll said he’ll be a gameday decision due to the knee injury, which has plagued him all year long. If he’s out, Phil Haynes likely will start at right guard, Carroll said.
Dissly is also a gameday decision with an “unusual” and “uncomfortable” injury while Dunlap has a chance to play on Sunday.
The Seahawks also have three players on the reserve/COVID list who could miss the game. Those players are strong safety Ryan Neal, defensive tackle Al Woods and defensive end Alton Robinson, but Robinson will be activated on Saturday and be able to play on Sunday, Carroll told reporters.
Cody Barton will get the start at middle linebacker for Wagner alongside Jordyn Brooks, who is third in the NFL in tackles.
Carroll said it’s a “great opportunity” for Barton, who is in his third NFL season and has mostly been a backup and special teamer.
“He is so well grooved at what he’s doing, just like he took over last week and did really well and he’ll do that again this week,” Carroll said, adding that his expectations for the young linebacker are to “relax and have fun playing football and make sure he’s in charge of (the defense’s) huddle.”
With Wagner out, the question becomes whether or not he’s played his final game with the Seahawks.
Wagner has one more year on his contract at over $20 million, but roughly 15% of that contract is guaranteed and the Seahawks could save roughly $17 million by cutting or trade the seven-time All-Pro.
Wagner, Carroll, quarterback Russell Wilson, and general manager John Schneider are all subject to rumors and speculation regarding their futures as the Seahawks have lost 10 games for the first time since 2009 and will finish 2021 in last place in the NFC West.
Wagner said last week he wasn’t sure if last Sunday would be his final home game in Seattle, but this week he expressed optimism that he’d return for 2022. Carroll echoed that sentiment on Friday regarding the perennial All-Pro.
“I would love Bobby to play here forever,” Carroll said. “He’s been as solid as you could ever want a player to be and we’ve kind of grown up as Seahawks together in this program over the years and I’d love for him to be here. I don’t see why we’d be thinking anything else.”