The Seattle Seahawks once had the top defense in the NFL. The Legion of Boom featured hard hitters with big personalities such as Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Bobby Wagner. Over the past few years, though, the Seahawks have been going through a youth movement. As a result, they've either traded or released just about all the key pieces from their last Super Bowl team. That includes Bobby Wagner. The Seahawks released him the same day the team traded quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos.
While the Seahawks thought Wagner was too old to contribute, the 32-year-old believed he had plenty of quality football left in his body and mind.
So Bobby he did something that is actually quite unusual for the NFL. He sent a text message to Les Snead, the general manager of the Los Angeles Rams, in which he made the case that he should play for the Rams. In the messages Bobby also informed the GM that he was representing himself as he searched for a new team. Wagner wanted to meet with Snead and Rams Vice President Tony Pastoors, both of whom had never dealt with a player negotiating for himself.
Les Snead initially thought the texts were fake. "I think he signed off as Bwagz," Snead told the Los Angeles Times. "And I'm like, 'OK, is this real?'"
The texts were real. And so was what happened next…
Amazingly, the two sides got a deal done, and Wagner signed with the reigning champion Rams. Acting as his own agent, Wagner walked away from the negotiating table with a five-year, $50 million contract. The deal includes $20 million in guarantees and Wagner has veto power for the final three years.
This is the second deal Wagner has brokered for himself, but the first one with a new team. Up to this point, he had spent his entire 10-year career with the Seahawks, making the Pro Bowl eight times. In 2019, he negotiated a three-year, $54 million contract with more than $40 million in guarantees.
Negotiating his own contracts has also helped Wagner prepare for a career after football. This summer, he took about 20 high school and college students to tour Silicon Valley companies and learn about business, innovation, and financial literacy. Wagner funded the trip himself.
The linebacker has also enjoyed brand endorsements with BodyArmor and Nike and started a fund to raise awareness of strokes in honor of his mother, who died of a stroke in 2009. The fund assists hospital programs and provide guidance to patients, families, and the professionals who help treat them.
Wagner's doing plenty off the field, but he has one more mission on it: win another Super Bowl ring. He won one with the Seahawks, and came a literal yard away from winning a second the following season. Instead, Wilson's goal line pass was intercepted, and the New England Patriots celebrated instead.
That game was played in Los Angeles, the city Wagner will now call home. Winning a title here with his new team would be a very impressive full-circle moment.