Add Bobby Wagner to the list.
A day after the Seahawks locked up one key player to a long-term deal, signing quarterback Russell Wilson to a four-year contract extension, they made another big commitment to their future, signing their All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner late Saturday night to a deal that runs through the 2019 season. In doing so, the Seahawks added to an already impressive list of key players who are signed through at least the next three seasons.
Wagner, a second-round pick in Seattle’s impressive 2012 draft class that also included Wilson, Bruce Irvin, Robert Turbin, Jeremy Lane, J.R. Sweezy and Greg Scuggs, set a franchise record for tackles by a rookie with 140. Through three seasons, Wagner has totaled 363 tackles, 9.0 sacks and five interceptions, and the Seahawks have made no secret of the fact that keeping him in Seattle was a big priority.
Even after making a big financial commitment to Wilson on Friday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made sure to point out that signing one young star didn’t mean they couldn’t take care of another.
>>> PHOTOS: The Best Of Bobby Wagner
“We’re on it,” Carroll said of a potential Wagner extension after Wilson’s deal was signed. “We’re on it. Whoever thought that we were done with that, that was not right… We have planned for this this for a long time.”
Wagner made it clear Friday that he was eager to get a deal done, preferably, “Now, that’s my deadline.” But he also noted that whether he signed a new contract or not, he wouldn’t change how he goes about his business this season.
“If it happens, it happens,” Wagner said Friday. “All I know is that at the end of the season, y’all will know that I’m the best linebacker in this league, that’s my focus. Everything else will take care of itself.”
As good as Wagner had been in his first two-plus seasons, it might have been a five-game absence in 2014 that got him closer to his goal of showing he is one of the best linebackers in the league. In the Seahawks’ Week 6 loss to Dallas, Wagner suffered a serious turf toe injury and missed the next five games. Upon Wagner’s return, the Seahawks closed the regular season by winning six straight, allowing an average of just 6 points per game. It would be oversimplifying things to say Wagner’s return was the only reason for the Seahawks’ late-season turnaround, but he was definitely a big part of it, which is why he earned both first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors, and even one MVP vote for the first time in his career despite missing a significant portion of the season.
“Bobby is a tremendous athlete,” Carroll said. “Really fast at his position, he’s tremendously agile, a terrific cover guy. The athlete was always there, the leadership was always there, but he had to grow into it to be recognized by his teammates, and he’s done all of that. He understands the game now, his game is going to continue to get better for the next three or four years as he just nails offenses and nails plays and concepts and principles and stuff. The sky’s the limit for this guy, we love him, and he’s going to be with us for a long time.”
Take a look at range of expressions found on Bobby Wagner during a game.
Wagner’s new contract means yet another member of Seattle’s young, talented nucleus is under contract for several years. The Seahawks now have Wilson, Wagner, Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, K.J. Wright and Jimmy Graham under contract through at least the 2017 season, and Doug Baldwin is signed through 2016.
As Wagner himself noted in a much-discussed Tweet following after Wilson signed his deal, the Seahawks, like any team, “Can’t keep everyone,” but they have done an impressive job keeping their most important players.