When you think of the linebackers in the NFL over the last decade, former Seattle Seahawk Bobby Wagner instantly comes to mind. A second-round pick back in 2012, Wagner became one of the best players in the NFL. With 1,383 tackles, 68 tackles for loss, and eleven interceptions in his career, it is easy to see why. Perhaps more importantly, he has missed just one game since 2018.
An eight-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro, he was the heart and soul of the Seattle defense. As such, it was surprising when the team elected to release him. After seeing his play fall off a bit in recent seasons, Seattle decided it was time for a total reset after the Russell Wilson trade. Given a 71.8 grade by PFF last season, he was no longer an elite player but was still quite valuable.
Many connected the dots instantly to the Cowboys. At the time, Dallas had not yet re-signed linebacker Leighton Vander Esch which left them with a hole at the position. Regardless, Vander-Esch has not been the most reliable option in recent seasons and his play has fallen off a bit as well. Not only did they have a spot for Wagner, but Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn held the same position in Seattle in 2013 and 2014 where he oversaw Wagner's first All-Pro season.
Bobby Wagner signs with the Rams
“It just didn't work out.” That's how Cowboys COO Stephen Jones described the situation with Wagner when asked why they did not sign him. A puzzling statement to give about a player who, at the time, was still a free agent. However, rumors swirled that Jones and the Cowboys refused to go to Wagner's asking price. The Los Angeles Rams had no problem doing so however as they signed the former Seahawk to a robust five-year, $50 million deal.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 31, 2022
So where does Dallas go now? Well, that depends on how frugal they choose to be. A marquee franchise in the NFL with a legitimate chance to compete for a championship, it's hard to imagine players would not want to join the team. Alas, they have not been aggressive in free agency for a number of years now so that leaves the situation murky.
Veteran linebackers such as Donta Hightower, Joe Schobert, and Kyle Van Noy are still available to be signed. With all three likely searching for one-year contracts, the Cowboys could likely get one of them for relatively cheap. While they are on the back end of their careers, they would at least give the Cowboys depth at a position of need.
While Dallas claims to be excited about the potential of second-year linebacker Jabril Cox, missing out on Bobby Wagner hurts. One of the games' best over the last several years, Wagner instantly gives the Dallas defense some legitimacy. However, due to the tightfisted front office, he will be playing in Los Angeles as they continue to pull all the stops to be a contender. For the Cowboys, their window is now as well and they need to act like it.