Huard: What Bobby Wagner brings to the table in his Seahawks return

Mar 27, 2023, 11:07 AM | Updated: 4:52 pm

Seahawks Bobby Wagner...

Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner reacts on a fourth down against Tennessee on Sept. 19, 2021. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

For a brief time, Bobby Wagner was a Seahawks adversary. But after just a year away with the Los Angeles Rams, one of Seattle’s NFC West rivals, the six-time All-Pro is back in the fold.

Related: Seahawks reuniting with legendary linebacker Bobby Wagner

The legendary middle linebacker made his return to the Seahawks official on Saturday, giving Seattle some much needed help at a position where it lost Cody Barton in free agency and will likely be without starter Jordyn Brooks for the start of the 2023 season while he recovers from surgery to repair a torn ACL.

Wagner will turn 33 in June, so it’s safe to say he won’t be expected to be the same player who made eight straight Pro Bowls from 2014 to 2021 with Seattle. So what is it about him that will allow him to still be a key piece of the Seahawks’ defense?

“His mind and his eye,” former NFL quarterback and current FOX football analyst Brock Huard said Monday morning on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. “Kind of like (Mariners Hall of Fame designated hitter) Edgar Martinez was able to sustain that for so many years – body broke down eventually, but (not) his mind and his eye. So I think Bobby, knowing the game inside and out, knowing this division inside and out… I think that that is going to be his greatest strength – that he can see this game.”

Hasselbeck: How Seahawks may use Bobby Wagner differently in return

Wagner didn’t have the quite the same kind of high tackle numbers in his one year with Los Angeles (140 in 2023 after a career-high 170 with Seattle in 2022), but he did set a personal best with six sacks in addition to making 10 tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hits and two interceptions. Huard kept the baseball analogies coming to explain what Wagner offers.

“He’s the one that’s going to be able to slow and process the game, not too dissimilar to a pitcher or a hitter in the batter’s box or on the mound. Be able to slow it down enough to go, ‘Yep, this is what I want to throw,'” Huard said. “Now, will it come with 97 mph velocity, like it did (before), to kind of continue this trail and analogy? No. But will it come with 93? Yeah, I think his (velocity), if he was a pitcher, he’s still got 93, 94. And when he needs to crank it up to 97, as he showed against the Seahawks in the two matchups last year, he can still have some of that juice, as well.”

Where Wagner’s biggest value may come is in teaching young linebackers and other defensive players, something Huard expects Seattle to add more of. He shared insight on that by pulling from Brock and Salk’s weekly conversations with former Seahawks Pro Bowl linebacker K.J. Wright, a longtime teammate of Wagner, throughout last football season.

“K.J. Wright over the course of this year was so awesome just talking about that mind and the eye of reading screens, of reading scheme, of looking at offensive linemen’s alignment,” Huard said. “All these things that when you play 10, 11 years and you’ve banked hundreds of games, you’re able to process the game at a rate that young guys can’t. And I think there’s going to be young guys, I think they’re still going to draft linebackers. They need to still draft linebackers, need to still draft defensive linemen, they need to keep adding to this front seven.”

You can hear Huard’s full thoughts in the Blue 88 segment from Monday’s show in the podcast below.

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