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Packers Release Wagner, Who Is Contemplating Retirement

From Green Bay’s perspective, releasing Wagner is an accounting move to create $4.25 million in salary-cap savings.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers released Rick Wagner on Friday, with the Wisconsin native considering retirement.

The Packers also released linebacker Christian Kirksey.

Wagner was signed to compete for the vacant spot at right tackle. While that job went to Billy Turner, Wagner wound up starting nine regular-season games and playing 59 percent of the offensive snaps.

The season in Green Bay brought Wagner back to his home state.

Wagner is a native of West Allis. He walked on at the University of Wisconsin as a tight end and became a three-year starting offensive tackle, including all-Big Ten first-team honors at left tackle as a senior in 2012. He was a fifth-round draft choice by the Baltimore Ravens in 2013. With 47 starts in four seasons with Baltimore, 40 starts in three seasons with the Detroit Lions and nine starts this season with Green Bay, Wagner perhaps will conclude his career with 96 career starts.

“It’s definitely cool” to be in Green Bay, Wagner said during training camp. “In the NFL, you really can’t choose where you go, you know? You’re happy to have a job really anywhere. And I had a great time in Baltimore and Detroit. I was really happy about my experiences at both places. But, at this point in my career, I’m really happy to be here and it’s definitely a special place.”

From Green Bay’s perspective, releasing Wagner is an accounting move. Wagner had a $6 million cap charge for the upcoming season, including $1.75 million of prorated signing bonus from the two-year, $11 million contract he signed last offseason. The Packers, who were $19.99 million over a projected salary cap of $180.5 million at the start of the day, according to, will gain $4.25 million of cap space. Even if Wagner chooses to retire and files the paperwork to make that official, the $1.75 million bonus will remain on the ledger.

Releasing Kirksey created another $5.61 million of cap space. Combined with Wagner, that's $9.86 million of space. Based on OTC's projection, the Packers are $10.13 million over the cap.

Released by the Lions in March, Wagner chose Green Bay in part because it gave him a chance to play for a championship. Having spent the end of the 2014 season in Baltimore on injured reserve, his two playoff starts this year were the first of his professional career.

“This is a truly special team,” he said in December. “It’s an honor being here being part of this team.”

Wagner dealt with a knee injury throughout the season and clearly was playing at far less than 100 percent health by the end of the season. He was exploited by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game. Facing elite pass rusher Shaq Barrett, Wagner gave up three sacks and could have been flagged for holding on several other occasions had the officials not mostly let the players go at it. It was an unfortunate ending to the season for Wagner, who allowed only one sack and one stuff (tackle at or behind the line on a running play) during the regular season.