How inside linebacker Bobby Wagner will change the Rams’ defense

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner walks off the field after defeating the Texans in Houston.
As he was with the Seattle Seahawks, Bobby Wagner should be a leader with the Rams.
(Jeff Lewis / Associated Press)
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The Rams agreed to terms with six-time All-Pro inside linebacker Bobby Wagner, demonstrating once again they will not shy from acquiring proven star players.

Three takeaways on what the acquisition means for the Rams:

All-Pro talent at all three levels of the defense

The Rams already were envied by other NFL teams because three-time defensive player of the year Aaron Donald anchors the defensive line and three-time All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey leads the secondary.

Enter Wagner, who has been voted to the Pro Bowl in eight consecutive seasons.

The Rams added depth at linebacker by agreeing to deal with Bobby Wagner, a Pro Bowl player who always has been a nemesis to NFC West rivals during 10 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.

March 31, 2022

At 31, Wagner probably is not the same player physically that he was in 2013 when the Seattle Seahawks won a Super Bowl, and in 2014 when they narrowly missed winning another.


Last season, Wagner amassed 170 tackles in 16 games, but lacked some of the splash plays that defined him earlier in his career.

Regardless, the Rams now have a proven talent to mentor second-year linebacker Ernest Jones.

Seattle's Bobby Wagner (54) looks on as the Rams' Robert Woods stretches for the football.
Bobby Wagner (54), shown trying to defend the Rams’ Robert Woods, did his share of pass coverage with Seattle.
(Associated Press)

Von Miller-type leadership

There’s a reason the Buffalo Bills guaranteed Miller more than $50 million to lure him away from a return to the Rams.

They wanted him because he showed he could close games by pressuring quarterbacks, something that might have come in handy against, say, Patrick Mahomes in the AFC divisional playoff round. But Miller also had provided the Rams with veteran savvy and Super Bowl experience.

As an inside linebacker, Wagner will not have the pass-rushing presence that Miller provided the Rams. Few NFL players, however, are as universally respected as the ultra-tough Wagner.


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.

March 30, 2022

Remember how the Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers ran right at — and sometimes through — the Rams?

That’s probably not happening with Wagner manning the middle.

Another homecoming for a Southland high school star

Wagner played at Ontario Colony High before starring at Utah State and becoming a second-round draft pick for the Seahawks in 2012.

Answering questions that arise from Bruce Arians stepping down as Tampa Bay head coach so Todd Bowles can take over.

March 30, 2022

Now he gets a chance, twice a season, to show the Seahawks they erred by releasing him.

Wagner’s return is expected to evolve much more smoothly than DeSean Jackson’s did last season.

Jackson, the former Long Beach Poly High star, quickly became unhappy with his limited role in the receiver corps. He was released at midseason after the Rams found no trade takers.

Wagner should enjoy a much longer tenure with the Rams.