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Free Agent profile: Inside linebacker Bobby Wagner

Could the future Hall of Famer join Russell Wilson on the Broncos?

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Chicago Bears v Seattle Seahawks
Could Wagner follow his former teammate to the Broncos?
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

According to a report by Jordan Schultz the Denver Broncos are “very interested” in linebacker Bobby Wagner.

Wagner was released shortly after the Seattle Seahawks traded Russell Wilson to Denver, marking the end of an era in the Pacific Northwest. Does it make sense to reunite the two in orange and blue?

Player Profile

Height: 6-0
Weight: 241 pounds
Age: 32 in June
Experience: 10 seasons

Why it makes sense

Three of the Broncos’ starting linebackers are currently set to become unrestricted free agents: Josey Jewell, Alexander Johnson, and Kenny Young. While the Broncos and Jewell’s agent met at the Combine about a potential return, nothing’s set in stone yet. At present the Broncos’ linebacker corps. consists of Baron Browning and Justin Strnad. That’s it. Even if you consider Jonas Griffith a lock to return since he’s an exclusive rights free agent, there’s a glaring lack of proven experience and a litany of questions about the current group.

Browning looked very promising once he made it to the field his rookie season, but also missed a significant stretch during the first half of the season because of a lower body injury. Strnad was benched on Halloween and couldn’t find his way back onto the defense despite the room being decimated by injuries.

A second round pick in the 2012 draft, Wagner’s been an impact player since his rookie season. He’s a six time All Pro who received MVP votes in 2014 as well as a former team captain who could step into the Broncos locker room as a leader from day one. His range may not be quite what it was during the peak of his career, but he remains a four down backer and impact player against the run and pass. He finished 2021 with 169 tackles including nine for a loss, a forced fumble, a pick, and a sack.

Why it doesn’t make sense

The risk with Wagner centers on what it will cost to obtain him. Any team with cap space and a need at linebacker should and probably is interested in signing him, so the Broncos probably aren’t getting him for cheap. Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger predicted he’d sign for one year and $8 million in his free agent preview, but I suspect that’s a conservative estimate at this point.

Final Thoughts

Before the Seahawks released Wagner I said that it’d make sense for Paton to bring back one of the Broncos’ veteran linebackers and that’d still be a suitable option for the second year general manager. Still, the chance to secure another future Hall of Famer to help maximize Russell Wilson’s first year in Denver is appealing. When you add in hidden benefits Wagner probably has on Browning and Griffith’s development, I’m all for a signing.


Should the Broncos be serious contenders for Bobby Wagner?

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