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How NFL star Bobby Wagner negotiated a $65 million deal with the Rams

#54 Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks is interviewed after training at training camp on July 29, 2021 in Renton, Washington.

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NFL linebacker Bobby Wagner wanted another test as he prepares for life after football. Thus, he introduced himself to the 2022 free agency market after the Seattle Seahawks released him to save money.

On Monday, Wagner, 31, signed a five-year contract with the Los Angeles Rams that could be worth up to $65 million. The agreement includes incentives for teams and players that Wagner says are “achievable.” He called it “a victory for me and a victory for them”.

In an interview with CNBC on Monday night, Wagner discussed his new contract and explained why he was once again negotiating terms without the use of an agent. This isn’t the first time Wagner has decided to turn down representation, but he admitted it was harder this time around.

“But,” he said, “I always try to challenge myself, not only on the football field, but also off it.”

Throwing away emotions

“The crazy part of it all,” Wagner tweeted on March 11, “I played there for 10 years and didn’t even hear from them that I wasn’t coming back.”

This Twitter response comes days after reports surfaced that the Seahawks would release eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker. The ruthless move saved the team $16 million. The club, which competes in the NFC West alongside the Rams, is rebuilding. They also traded their Super Bowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos. Head Coach Pete Carroll and General Manager John Schneider took the blame for the lack of communication with Wagner.

On Monday night, Wagner explained his dissatisfaction with the way the Seahawks handled the matter.

“I never had any intention of leaving,” Wagner told CNBC. “I planned to spend my entire career there. So when it happened, you were upset, and then you added how you found out that you were even more upset. Wagner added that he “took a minute to let the feelings out and then shut up.”

Asked for comment, a Seahawks spokesperson emailed CNBC: “Awesome player, wish him all the best.”

The Seahawks selected Wagner in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He has represented himself in contract negotiations since 2015, when he landed a $43 million deal with the Seahawks.

However, this time it was different.

“The first time was a little easier because I knew the team, the CEO and the history of the club,” Wagner said. “Free will this time around was a little different because you have to contact all the general managers – that was another challenge I wanted to take on.”

The NFL Players Association maintains a list of contact information for general managers. Wagner received the list and “began texting and emailing reminding teams that I represent myself and that’s how they can contact me if they need my services,” he said.

#28 Jeremy McNichols of the Tennessee Titans takes on #54 Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter at Lumen Field on September 19, 2021 in Seattle, Washington.

Abby Parr | Getty Images

Inside a $65 million deal

Wagner said he looked at past contracts, player statistics and current NFL deals for linebackers to determine his worth. Another stigma he had to overcome was age.

Wagner said senior midfielders are not judged properly due to age as teams favor younger players. But he cited other Pro Bowl linebackers who played “well over 31,” including the Baltimore Ravens icon. Ray Lewis who retired at 37. Other greats at the club over 31: Former Rams midfielder London Fletcher and New Orleans Saints Pro Bowler Sam Mills played until age 38, and member of the Tampa Bay Pirates Hall of Fame Derrick Brooks played until 35.

“There’s an idea that you can’t play as much as you want,” Wagner said.

Teams, including the Ravens and Dallas Cowboys, offered a helping hand. During the talks, the teams had to overcome “the idea that if they send something low or something that I might not like, that would be offensive,” Wagner said.

“I felt like I was in a good position to know how to deal with my emotions and where I am in my career,” he added. “I just wanted to get the right deal for me.”

The Rams offered the deal.

Wagner’s contract is actually for five years and includes $50 million, which could reach $65 million if he wins promotions. Among them are Wagner, who plays 90% of snaps in defense; The Rams advance to the playoffs and finish in the top five in defense. Other additions include nearly $10 million in lineup bonuses and another Pro Bowl pick, according to Spotrac, a website that tracks sports contracts.

“These are very achievable incentives,” he said. Wagner added that he needed to explore the team salary cap space in order to “know which team you’re working with. Some teams don’t have room for a ceiling, and some don’t have the flexibility to work with numbers. create your own market.

The deal with the Super Bowl champion Rams also met other criteria: Wagner, a native of Los Angeles, gets the opportunity to play close to home. And he also plans to keep the seat in Seattle.

Wagner also said that he had a real flirtation with the Cowboys. “It was the real thing. We had conversations. I love [Cowboys defensive coordinator] Dan Quinn and I have a lot of respect for him. But between their needs and what they were willing to spend, we could not agree. But there was mutual interest,” he said.

“Between the Rams and the Cowboys, these are teams that have been around for a long time and have a lot of history,” Wagner added. “The opportunity to be part of any of these franchises increases your exposure. And I settled on one.

#54 Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks warms up before a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambo Field on September 10, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Joe Robbins | Getty Images Sports | Getty Images

Wagner wants to be NFL team president

Discussing the decision to represent himself, Wagner asked to complete the story that there was “hostility or I’m negative” about the use of NFL agents. “After all, I am not doing this to say that I am an agent. I do it for growth.”

In addition, Wagner said he was able to build more relationships with NFL team leaders and learn more about the football business. The goal here is to position yourself as the future president of the team.

Wagner would be one of the few presidents of black teams in NFL history if he achieved that goal.

The NFL added its first black team president in Washington Commanders executive Jason Wright in 2020. crows hired a second in February 2022 with the involvement of NFL and NBA Team Principal Sasha Brown. And throughout professional basketball, the NBA has slipped league seven Black team leaders in 2007 are only three now. And MLB lost its first black chief executive after Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter stepped down.

Wagner noted that most players go into coaching or the media after their careers. But he aspires higher.

“This is the box they put you in,” Wagner said. “I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, but it’s a box that they put us in. are you business savvy?”

He further explained, “What happens to the players is that we get stuck in our bubble. We get stuck in our world, and no matter how long you play – three years or 10 – we get so stuck and think that the world works a certain way. … And then when we get into the real world, we don’t experience anything other than just being part of the football team.”

Wagner added, “If I start where I started and understand the business and understand what’s going on in the dressing room, it will make me more valuable.”


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