Bobby Wagner had a curious – if not ominous – reaction minutes after 2012 draft classmate and Seahawks teammate Russell Wilson signed his new, $87.6 million contract extension early Friday morning.
"Can’t keep everyone," Wagner tweeted.
The perception for hours was that Wagner – who is entering the final year of his rookie deal and could command as much as $10 million per season in his next deal -- saw an average of $21.9 million, $31.7 million guaranteed at signing and $61 million guaranteed in all for the quarterback. And he figured there’s no way Seattle general manager John Schneider, coach and executive vice president Pete Carroll and the team’s salary-cap guru Matt Thomas are going to be able to fit a new extension for its All-Pro middle linebacker under this year’s salary cap, too.
Somebody must have explained to Wagner the nuances of Wilson’s deal by the time the Seahawks’ first practice ended after noon. Either that or the shock of the early-morning news and the sweat of being back running the league’s top defense on the field softened Wagner’s view.
Asked if Wilson’s deal made him feel the team couldn’t keep him beyond 2015, too, Wagner said, "Nah, I’m hopeful they reach a contract.
"I think that’s not really up to me. I think my agent and the organization, Pete and John and everybody, that’s their job to figure that out. And my job is to continue showing you guys I’m the best linebacker in this league. And that’s what I am going to do."
Wilson’s agent Mark Rodgers said Friday his client insisted the start of camp would be the end of negotiations because he didn’t want the distraction of talks during the preseason or regular season.
Asked if he had a deadline when he’d like to have a new deal, Wagner said: "Now. That’s my deadline."
Carroll strongly hinted the Seahawks got Wilson’s deal done with the expectation they can get Wagner re-signed before the Sept. 13 opener at St. Louis. Wilson restructured his 2015 base salary from $1.54 million to $700,000 fully guaranteed to help Seattle still have just over $4 million in cap space remaining for this year.
"We’re on it. We’re on it," Carroll said, alluding to a national report that said Wilson’s deal makes Wagner endangered in Seattle beyond this season. "Whoever thought that we were done with that thing, that was not right. We’re on it and we’re going to keep competing to get that done. We have planned for this for a long time and nothing has changed in all that. Our guys are working at it by the hour here.
"The sky is the limit for the guy. We love him. He’s going to be with us for a long time."
Pittsburgh’s Lawrence Timmons is currently the highest-paid middle linebacker in the league with a five-year contract averaging $9,559,150 per year. San Francisco’s NaVorro Bowman is averaging $9,050,000 on his five-year deal. Brian Cushing is averaging $8.75 million with Houston.
Those three have combined for half as many Super Bowl starts as Wagner has had in his three-year career. None of them is an All-Pro.
Asked if it’s important to him to be the NFL’s highest-paid middle linebacker, Wagner said: "It’s important to me to be recognized as one of the best.
"Like I said, it’s not up to me. I let the people who get paid to figure that out figure that out. My job is to go out there and make sure this defense is run right and be the best defense. And it will be the best defense you’ll see on this field. Again."