Bobby Wagner on Seahawks return: ‘I thought when I left, that was the end’

Apr 5, 2023, 11:27 AM | Updated: 11:40 am

Seahawks Bobby Wagner...

Bobby Wagner reacts after a play during the a Seahawks playoff game against the Rams on Jan. 9, 2021. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Bobby Wagner is back in the Seahawks’ navy, gray and action green. Back with No. 54 on his jersey. Back where he’s spent all but one season of his storied 11-year NFL career.

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Go back a year, however, and even he thought this reunion probably would never happen.

Wagner was released by the Seahawks following the 2021 season, and it wasn’t the smoothest parting of ways. Wagner, who serves as his own agent, didn’t find that news out from the Seahawks themselves, and it certainly didn’t sit right with him at the time. And while general manager John Schneider did apologize publicly for making that mistake, there was another reason Wagner thought he’d probably played his last snap in a Hawks uniform.

“I thought when I left, that was the end,” Wagner told Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Wednesday, about a week and a half after he agreed to return to the Seahawks on a one-year deal. “You know, if you watched the guys that kind of left before me, there have been some moments when you thought someone was gonna come back, whether it was Richard (Sherman) or K.J. (Wright) or whoever, but it just didn’t happen for whatever reason. So I didn’t think that this was in the cards, but I’m happy it played out this way.”

In the 20-minute conversation with Brock Huard and Mike Salk, Wagner dived into exactly how his return to Seattle after one year with the Los Angeles Rams played out. Here’s a look at what he had to say.

Leaving the Rams

Wagner joined the Rams last offseason on a multi-year deal, and big things were expected considering the eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker was being added to a defense that led Los Angeles to a Super Bowl win the season prior. Unfortunately for them, the Rams struggled mightily in 2022 and finished 5-12, and after the season concluded, Wagner and the Rams agreed to go their separate directions.

“I don’t think anybody could have predicted the season that the Rams had,” Wagner said. “… We didn’t have that great of a year and, you know, it looked like they were gonna do some rebuilding or retooling or whatever they want to call it (this offseason). And I’m at a stage in my career where I kind of want to stay competing and want to have another opportunity to win a championship. Kind of just felt like it was the best for both sides to move on.”

Wagner, who said it was a true mutual decision between him and the Rams to part ways, said it was more surprising to him that the Rams had a disappointing season than the Seahawks making the playoffs when most thought head coach Pete Carroll’s team would actually be the one fighting to stay out of the cellar in the NFC West.

“Honestly, I will say more so the Rams (season was surprising) just because you’re coming off the Super Bowl, pretty much have majority of the team intact for the most part,” he said. “As far as Seattle, I’ve always said it before, the culture that is in Seattle allows for guys to be at their best. And when you have everybody on one accord, (it) really maximizes everybody’s talent. So any given season, you can have a really good year from pretty much everybody so I wasn’t as surprised (about the Seahawks) as maybe everybody else was.”

Returning to the Seahawks

Once it was known that Wagner was going to be a free agent, there was heavy speculation that he could make his way back to the Seahawks. Leading that charge was Pro Bowl free safety Quandre Diggs, who was vocal on Twitter about wanting Wagner to rejoin him in Seattle’s defense.

“I got a tweet every day, and then he said some tweet that made all the Seahawks, everybody from Seattle hit me up,” Wagner said of Diggs. “… I think the biggest thing was I just started getting hit up from everybody from Seattle. Mainly Quandre, DK (Metcalf), Tyler (Lockett), a few others. It was just like, ‘Hey, you free. Why not come back?’ And I was like, ‘Well, if there’s interest in me coming back, then I’ll definitely do it.'”

The 12s get some credit, too.

“I feel like there were some fans that were doing a countdown (to) when I came back,” Wagner said.

Was there a hurdle to coming back to the Seahawks based on how things went down a year before?

“I think for me, I’ve kind of had the same stance. I never felt any type of way, per se, towards a person. I never felt any type of way towards Pete or John or anybody,” Wagner said. “I think the biggest thing was I just felt like we could have handled it differently, handled the business side differently. But I think I’m mature enough to know that business is business and sometimes things don’t get handled the same way, and so I don’t really hold grudges like that.

“It’s hard to just throw away, like, 10 years of a relationship, a friendship over something that we potentially won’t even remember – well, I’ll remember, but depending on how the story ends, you won’t remember. And it’s not like I ended up at a terrible place or a place that was far, far away from home. I ended up (with the Rams) down the street from where I grew up. So I think all of that played a factor.”

‘Just seemed like the right thing’

It’s been an easy transition for Wagner coming back to Seattle.

“It just seemed like the right thing,” he said. “Everybody was excited to have me back in the building, but even like walking around, going to the store, things of that nature, you could just feel that there’s a lot of love and support here. So I’m grateful that that’s what it is. I’m grateful for how the fans have re-embraced me.”

The same goes for his Seahawks teammates.

“I think, if anything, I appreciate all those guys because I think they were another reason why I came back or I was able to come back, because there was an openness within the building, especially from those guys, to have me back. So I’m grateful.”

Listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation with Wagner in the podcast below or the video near the top of this post.

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