Rams thrilled to have legendary Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner on their side
He tormented the Rams for 10 seasons while playing for the Seattle Seahawks.
Inside linebacker Bobby Wagner always was top of mind for Rams coach Sean McVay whenever he schemed against the NFC West rival.
McVay no longer must worry about the six-time All-Pro disrupting the Rams’ offense during division games and NFC playoff matchups.
Wagner on Thursday agreed to terms with the Rams on a five-year contract, the team announced. Terms were not disclosed but the deal it is worth $50 million according to several reports.
Wagner joins the defending Super Bowl champion Rams and a defense that includes seven-time All-Pro lineman Aaron Donald, who is due to receive a new contract, and three-time All-Pro Jalen Ramsey, the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback.
Bruce Arians steps aside as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers so Todd Bowles can take over. Bowles will become the NFL’s sixth active minority head coach.
“Inspiration & motivation This defense will be elite at all 3 levels, I’m claiming it,” Ramsey tweeted.
Wagner, 31, grew up in the Inland Empire and attended Ontario Colony High before playing at Utah State. He was a mainstay for the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” defense and teams that won Super Bowl XLVIII at the end of the 2013 season and advanced to the Super Bowl the next season.
Last season, the 6-foot, 242-pound Wagner was voted to the Pro Bowl for the eighth consecutive season. But the Seahawks, in an apparent salary purge, released him in March shortly after they traded veteran quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos.
Wagner also had contact with the Dallas Cowboys and visited the Baltimore Ravens before deciding to join the Rams.
Wagner apparently still was mulling his decision when McVay addressed reporters Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Florida.
“He’s a really special guy,” McVay said, adding, “He’s a guy that, obviously, very familiar with playing him a couple times a year, and three times in 2020. Just as impressive as I thought when you get a chance to spend some elongated periods of time together. … If we can get it worked out, I’d be fired up.”
Answering questions that arise from Bruce Arians stepping down as Tampa Bay head coach so Todd Bowles can take over.
Ramsey was not the only Ram excited about Wagner’s impending arrival.
“Let’s go!! Don’t have to play against @Bwagz anymore!!!!” Rams receiver Cooper Kupp tweeted.
Since McVay was hired in 2017, he and general manager Les Snead have not been shy about pursuing proven, high-profile players. Before last season, they traded for quarterback Matthew Stafford, signed receiver DeSean Jackson and traded for running back Sony Michel.
At midseason, they traded for outside linebacker Von Miller and signed free-agent receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Jackson was released early in the season, but the others were instrumental in the Rams’ run to a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.
Rams coach Sean McVay speaks from the NFL meetings and says Aaron Donald relayed he will be back next season. Rams executive Kevin Demoff says McVay and GM Les Snead both will get extensions.
But the acquisition of Wagner is a departure of sorts for the Rams.
Under former defensive coordinators Wade Phillips and Brandon Staley and current coordinator Raheem Morris, inside linebacker had not been regarded as a premium position for heavy investment.
Last season, the Rams started, at times, Kenny Young, Troy Reeder, rookie Ernest Jones and Travin Howard. Young was traded to the Broncos at midseason. The Rams tendered Howard, a restricted free agent, but did not tender Reeder.
The availability of player of Wagner’s accomplishments and experience caused the Rams to pivot.
Now Wagner ostensibly will mentor Jones while filling a star void left by the departure of Miller.
In regular-season overtime, the game still ends if team scores a touchdown on first possession, but in playoffs both teams now are assured possession.
The Rams had attempted to keep Miller, but the future Hall of Famer signed a massive contract with the Buffalo Bills.
Wagner is another future Hall of Famer, according to one former teammate.
“The rich get richer!” tweeted Richard Sherman, a three-time All-Pro cornerback who starred alongside Wagner with the Seahawks. “Lose future HOF @VonMiller and gain future HOF @Bwagz. The @Ravens made a last min push but the Reigning champs @RamsNFL were too good to pass up.”
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