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Speaking On Seahawks Exit, Bobby Wagner Calls Out Organization For Poor Communication

While he did so respectfully, Wagner offered some candid commentary on his departure from Seattle and why the front office didn't handle the situation well.

Nearly a month following his release after 10 seasons starring for the Seahawks, newly-signed Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner spoke publicly about the messy split with the only organization he had ever known, calling out coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider for failing to communicate with him.

"I think after 10 years, it's just simple communication," Wagner told reporters shortly after signing his contract on Monday. "I don't think it had to be that difficult."

Wagner, 31, finished with 170 tackles in 15 games for Seattle in 2021, earning Second-Team All-Pro honors and an eighth Pro Bowl selection in the process. It marked the 10th straight year he had hit the century mark for tackles, making him only the third player (Ray Lewis, London Fletcher) since 1987 to achieve the feat. Despite his impressive productivity, however, the franchise decided to move on from him with the aging defender carrying a massive $20.35 million cap hit for next season, opening up more than $16 million in instant cap space.

Back in late December, Wagner admitted that he had thought about his future with the Seahawks as the team approached the end of a disappointing 7-10 campaign. Understanding big changes could be in store with the team's last place finish in the NFC West, he seemed prepared for the possibility he could be playing elsewhere in 2022.

With that said, however, Wagner didn't appreciate how he found out about the news last month, writing on social media that the Seahawks themselves never informed him of his release.

"Crazy part about all this. I played there for 10 years & I didn’t even hear it from them that I wasn’t coming back,” Wagner tweeted on March 11.

In response, Schneider and Carroll both took the blame for not handling Wagner's departure in a press conference on March 16, with the former suggesting that the linebacker's status representing himself further complicated the situation.

“That’s on me. I own that. I wish I could’ve handled things better in that regard, from a communication standpoint," Schneider said. "I owe it to him, the organization owes it to him. It’s somewhat awkward when a player represents himself. We have had some very high-profile individuals represent themselves here. You never know exactly what’s going to happen at the end of the day, so to approach somebody and say, ‘There may be a possible trade, would you consider this?’ and have that player come back to you, that’s not a good situation. From a timing standpoint, I wish I would’ve handled things differently.”

From Carroll's perspective, the long-time coach didn't want to see Wagner leave and held out hope the two sides could find a way to make things work for him to stick around for the foreseeable future. But once reports began trickling out on the internet mere hours after news broke that the team had traded quarterback Russell Wilson to the Broncos, the player unfortunately found out before he or Schneider could speak with the perennial All-Pro defender.

"I kept encouraging John [Schneider] to see what all of the possible options could be for a way out, that we don’t have to do this. Each day was crucial as we were drawing closer to it," Carroll explained. "It seemed like when Russ’ [Wilson] news went out, then everything hit the fan. We were supposed to meet with Bobby a couple of days after that and the timing just didn’t work out right. I regret that we didn’t do a better job timing-wise."

From Wagner's point of view, he was grateful for Schneider and Carroll owning up for their mistakes. But he didn't take too kindly to Schneider's stance that his representation status played a part in the lack of communication.

"I feel like that was weak," Wagner remarked. "I don't feel like me representing myself - whether I had an agent or whether I didn't have an agent - I still felt like that was a conversation that they could have had. That's where I stand with it. I'm not going to dwell on it. It's changed. They've already moved on. I've already moved on, so it is what it is at this point."

With returning to the Seahawks off the table, Wagner wasted little time exploring his options, going on visits with the Rams and Ravens. Other teams such as the Cowboys were rumored to be interested, only to bow out of the sweepstakes due to lack of salary cap space or mutual interest.

Ultimately, Wagner opted to sign with the defending champions, officially signing a five-year, $50 million deal on Monday and ensuring he would play his former team twice in 2022. Taking his playmaking talents back to southern California where he grew up, his presence will add another future Hall of Famer to an already-loaded Rams defense featuring defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey, giving the team a better shot at repeating next February.

While Wagner enjoyed his decade in the Pacific Northwest and will always view Seattle as his home, he's turned the page after an unfortunate divorce and eagerly awaits the opportunity to compete for championships with his new team. In the process, while continuing to rack up tackles in bunches, he's hoping to accomplish one of the few things he couldn't during his time with the Seahawks: persuade the Rams to add an alternate black jersey.

"Even if they wanted to go different directions, I don't think representing myself played any part on my end. It was more on their end. Maybe they didn't want to do it. Maybe they want to kind of burn that bridge. But I feel like through this process and the last process, I've shown the capability of handling tough conversations we've had, tough conversations throughout my tenure there. So it was easy to just pick up a phone and call. I shouldn't have to find out the way I found out. But it is what it is, and I found a great place, and now I'm working to get black jerseys here."