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Rams, top tackler Bobby Wagner agree to part ways after one season

Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner intercepts a pass thrown by the Broncos' Russell Wilson in December.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
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Linebacker Bobby Wagner had a short but productive stay with the Rams.

Wagner, the team’s leading tackler last season, and the Rams have agreed to part ways, people with knowledge of the situation said Thursday. The people requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about a situation that will not become official until Wagner is released at the start of the NFL’s new league year in mid-March.

Wagner, 32, signed a five-year, $50-million contract last April, but it was essentially structured as a one- to two-year deal. He was scheduled to carry a salary-cap number of $12.5 million in 2023, according to overthecap.com.

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Wagner will be released in part to create cap space. The cap for the 2023 season is $224.8 million. The Rams currently are about $15 million over the cap, according to overthecap.com. Wagner’s release before June 1 saves $5 million, though it also results in $7.5 million in dead money, according to the website.

Wagner signed with the Rams after the Seattle Seahawks released the six-time All-Pro on the same day they traded quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos.

The Rams found it difficult to believe Bobby Wagner was texting his interest in joining the team, but when they discovered the inquiry was legitimate they jumped at a chance to sign the perennial All-Pro linebacker.

Sept. 7, 2022

Wagner, an 11th-year pro, had a team-best 140 tackles, a career-high six sacks, intercepted two passes and provided sage leadership. But that was not enough to help the Rams avoid a 5-12 finish, the worst season-after performance by a Super Bowl champion in NFL history.

Wagner mentored linebacker Ernest Jones, a third-year pro who is expected to command a central role in the defense in 2023.

The Rams are expected to make more roster moves as they prepare for the start of free agency and the draft.

“I embrace & appreciate every moment now a days forreal because I never know what the future holds,” tweeted cornerback Jalen Ramsey, whom the Rams are expected to explore trading. “It was a real deal dream come true to play on the same defense as you @Bwagz ! Much love & respect!

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“Excited for the next chapter for you!”

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