SEATTLE (AP) — Considering Bobby Wagner never wanted to leave his adopted home in the first place, the chance at a return to Seattle was immediately at the top of his wish list when he unexpectedly became a free agent again.
Even if it meant turning down more money elsewhere.
“For me, I never really wanted to leave in the first place,” Wagner said on Wednesday. “And obviously business happened, and I had an opportunity to go play in the city I grew up in and so I thought that was cool. And then I wanted to come back to the city I kind of matured in, so I think it was cool to be able to kind of make that happen.”
Wagner returned to Seattle when he signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks in late March, bringing one of the most decorated and beloved players in franchise history back for another stint.
The need for Seattle is obvious. The Seahawks will be without starting middle linebacker Jordyn Brooks for a big chunk of the upcoming season after he suffered a torn ACL late in the 2022 season.
And it brings the Wagner story full circle with what all parties hope is a feel-good conclusion after a bit of angst surfaced for the way he was released by Seattle in a salary cap move in March 2022.
“The relationships that I’ve built over the years within the organization, outside of the organization, and just the love that I have for the city, I just think that it was something that I wanted to get done, something I wanted to have happen,” Wagner said.
How much of this is a one-year reunion or a potential longer renewal remains to be seen. Wagner noted Wednesday that his hope is to retire as a Seahawks player and that his preference is to play more than just one more year.
But he also acknowledged that he is entering his 12th season and will turn 33 years old this summer.
“I hope to play longer than this, but I think we’re at that point where you take it a year at a time,” Wagner said.
Wagner spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Seahawks after being selected in the second round of the 2012 draft by Seattle. He became a six-time first-team All-Pro selection during his tenure in Seattle, where he was regularly regarded as one of the best middle linebackers in the league.
On top of his familiarity with the Seahawks organization, another draw of bringing back Wagner was his experience last season playing for the Rams. Wagner was highly productive — he started all 17 games and had 140 tackles, and was voted second-team All-Pro — and the Rams defensive system had similarities to changes Seattle has made.
The terminology may end up being slightly different, but what’s going to be asked of Wagner should be mostly the same.
“I think just being able to learn another scheme, I think just provides another aspect to the game,” Wagner said. “(I’m) always excited about learning and so I still think there’s a lot of areas that I can improve in my game and I’m excited to do that.”