The Los Angeles Rams went into the NFL offseason as the defending Super Bowl champions, but that didn’t prevent them from shaking up their roster in free agency. Among the moves was signing eight-time Pro Bowler Bobby Wagner to a five-year, $50 million contract.
Wagner was a surprising addition to the free-agent market after the Seattle Seahawks suddenly released him in March. He immediately drew interest from several teams, including the Rams, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.
While inside linebacker wasn’t exactly a position of need for the Rams, it isn’t every day a player of Wagner’s caliber becomes available to sign.
Rams head coach Sean McVay revealed the team wanted to add Wagner for all he brings to the table, regardless of the scheme they run, per Cameron DaSilva of USA Today:
“That’s exactly right. We’ve been in a situation where we’ve played a lot of single-backer defenses the last couple of years, so it wasn’t something we really thought was a need. But when a player like Bobby Wagner comes available, there’s mutual interest on both ends, it was something that you’re saying, ‘Hey, players override whatever your scheme is.’ I think that’s what’s important for coaches, is to have good agility. He’s a special player that has the ability to be able to rush and cover. He’s obviously excellent in run support and I think when you’ve got two players like he and Ernest Jones, you can stem them onto the line of scrimmage, both of those guys are good matchups if you do rush them forward and you get them isolated on a running back in some of the six-man protections. And then they add the ability to be able to cover and understand some of those underneath and inside matchups in zones. It was more the player than it was the actual need for the team was why we went after Bobby.”
Wagner, who is getting set to enter his 11th NFL season, has long been considered one of the best players at his position. In addition to his skills on the field, he is widely regarded as an excellent leader in the locker room.
Wagner accumulated a career-high 170 combined tackles in 16 games for the Seahawks this past season. Inside linebacker historically has been a weak position for the Rams, so the 31-year-old should immediately come in and become a difference-maker on that side of the football.