Is Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner Already Hall of Famer?
Just turning 30 years old on June 27, Bobby Wagner has a strong case for being the greatest defensive player in Seahawks history. Ever since his arrival in 2012 in the second round of the 2012 draft, the dynamic linebacker has been one of the NFL's premier defenders and provided crucial leadership for Seattle.
With such an impressive resume already put together with still several seasons left on his contract, if Wagner's career ended today, would it be enough to earn him a bust in Canton?
One of the biggest resume builders for being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is longevity and sustained success.
In his eight seasons with the Seahawks, Wagner has never turned in a season with less than 104 tackles. No other player in the NFL can say that over that time frame.
One of the greatest linebackers in NFL history, Junior Seau, also posted eight straight seasons of 100-plus tackles in his career. Brian Urlacher had nine such seasons and with another solid season in 2020, Wagner should equal that.
Very few linebackers have sustained this amount of success over nearly a decade and most of the ones that achieved it are already in the Hall of Fame.
In terms of Approximate Value (AV) via Pro Football Reference, an attempt to quantify a player's overall value, Wagner has a career 112 AV. That exceeds the career mark of Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett (109) as well as possible future Hall of Famers Luke Kuechly (107) and Clay Matthews (101).
The former second round pick has amassed 1,075 career tackles to this point, which is the best in Seahawks franchise history. Certainly, if Wagner's career tragically ended today, he would, at worst, be a Seahawks Ring of Honor member.
Pro Football Reference also has a metric in an attempt to quantify what it takes to be a Hall of Famer called "Hall of Fame Monitor." This metric is designed to estimate a player's chances of making the Pro Football Hall of Fame using AV, Pro Bowls, All-Pros, championships, and various stat milestones.
Limiting the search by position and strictly evaluating inside linebackers, Wagner is right on the cusp of being in the Hall of Fame.
Wagner's Hall of Fame "score" thus far is 88.3, with the average score of a Hall of Famer as an inside linebacker being 113. For reference, Brian Urlacher earned a 113.4 score and the highest for the position is Ray Lewis at 197.9.
According to this score, Wagner needs about two more seasons of top-tier production to ensure his induction.
However, this is not a perfect science, as there are several linebackers who have scores lower than Wagner who have busts in Canton such as Ray Nitschke, Sam Huff, Willie Lanier, and Harry Carson.
When looking at Wagner's awards and accolades, his team-record First-Team All-Pro selections put him in lofty company. He boasts more such selections than Hall of Famers Urlacher and Jason Taylor as well as likely future inductees Dwight Freeney and Julius Peppers.
Even if Wagner doesn't become the greatest middle linebacker to ever live and his play drops off substantially in coming seasons, everything seems to point to him already having one arm in the gold jacket.
Pro Football Focus rated the top linebacker grades between 2017 and 2019 and Wagner is tied with Kuechly at the top of the heap. Since his rookie season in 2012, no other linebacker has as many All-Pro selections and only Kuechly has more tackles during that span.
Since 1987, only eight linebackers have amassed at least 1,000 tackles along with at least six Pro Bowl selections and Wagner is one of them. Four of the other seven are enshrined in the Hall of Fame and the other three are Lance Briggs, Zach Thomas, and Kuechly.
The compiling evidence suggests Wagner is extremely close to having Canton call his name after just eight NFL seasons. If he were to hang it up early as Kuechly did recently, it would be a close call. But with another Pro Bowl and/or All-Pro season in 2020, he should unofficially punch his ticket.