As excitement builds for the Seattle Seahawks‘ season opener against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, September 10, there’s a special significance to this matchup for superstar linebacker Bobby Wagner.
After the Seahawks surprised everyone by releasing the eight-time Pro Bowler last offseason, Wagner signed a lucrative five-year, $50 million contract with the Rams.
Despite the Rams experiencing a significant drop in performance following their successful Super Bowl run, culminating in a disappointing 5-12 record in the 2022 NFL season, Wagner emerged as one of their standout players.
He recorded an impressive stat line, with 140 tackles, six sacks, five passes defensed, and two interceptions. Wagner’s outstanding performance earned him Second-Team All-Pro honors and an impressive 90.7 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.
This made the 32-year-old linebacker the highest-graded player in his position for the year. However, due to salary cap constraints, the Rams decided to release Wagner after just one season.
Wagner, who had spent the first decade of his career in Seattle, returned to the Seahawks to the delight of local fans. He signed a one-year deal worth $5.5 million to make his comeback to the Emerald City.
In a twist of fate, Wagner is set to face his former team in Week 1. Rams linebacker Ernest Young, who became a team captain after a year of learning from Wagner, sent a message to his former teammate ahead of their showdown at Lumen Field.
Jones mentioned that he and Wagner typically exchange texts every week, but this week, he hasn’t received a message from Wagner.
Jones interprets this as a sign that Wagner is fully focused and ready for the game, just as the Rams are. He acknowledges Wagner’s defensive prowess and expresses confidence that both teams are primed for an exciting match.
Initially, the Rams were considered 4.5-point underdogs for the Week 1 matchup. However, the odds shifted in the Seahawks’ favor, with a 5.5-point spread, after All-Pro wide receiver Cooper Kupp was ruled out due to a lingering hamstring injury.
Wagner has not kept his knowledge of the Rams’ strategies a secret from his Seahawks teammates, including linebacker Jordyn Brooks and wide receiver DK Metcalf.
While they haven’t divulged specific details, Wagner, a future Hall-of-Famer and team captain, has openly shared his insights about the Rams’ tactics. He believes that this familiarity with the opponent adds an element of fun to the game, as it becomes a strategic chess match.
Wagner, who played a pivotal role in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory in the 2013 season, boasts an impressive career record of six First-Team All-Pro selections, 10 consecutive seasons with 100+ tackles, and significant contributions in various defensive categories.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll remains cautious and doesn’t underestimate the Rams, especially under the leadership of Sean McVay. Carroll praised the Rams’ coaching and organization, expecting them to bring their best to the game.
In contrast, the Seahawks field a 53-man roster with 24 players who are either rookies or in their second year and Carroll emphasizes the importance of preparing these newcomers during the preseason to prevent them from feeling overwhelmed.
Carroll is delighted to have Wagner back as the defensive anchor, describing the reunion as “perfect” and emphasizing the strong connection between them. He applauds Wagner’s decision to return to Seattle and believes it’s the right fit for both the player and the team, celebrating the opportunity to connect with fans and return home.
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