With Wagner helping lead the way, the Seahawks defense allowed the fewest points in the league for four straight seasons from 2012-2015, something never before accomplished during the Super Bowl era, and in Seattle’s Super Bowl-winning 2013 season, the Seahawks led the league in scoring defense, total defense and takeaways during the regular season before limiting the highest scoring offense in NFL history to a single late-game touchdown in a blowout victory in Super Bowl XLVIII.
“He’s just the glue,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said last season. “When everybody knows Bobby is in there, everything is going to be all right. He’s running, he’s hitting, he’s making his signal calls, he’s checking defenses, he’s calling different defenses and he’s blitzing, he’s covering, he’s running down with the fastest receiver on the other team, he does it all. He’s the complete package.”
And while Wagner has always been an important player both before and after the snap—middle linebackers are often considered the quarterback of the defense because they make the defensive calls on the field—he has taken on a bigger role in terms of leadership in recent years as several veteran players have moved on over the past couple of offseasons.
“You kind of have to restart your thinking,” Wagner said last year. “When I was a rookie and I came here, I was trying to figure out my voice within a lot of older established guys. Now, it’s kind of reversed. It’s trying to connect with the younger guys and try to find a way that I can help them and pass the knowledge that I have because that’s what the guys did when I first got here. They were just giving me a lot of knowledge and I ran with it, so now it’s my turn to pass that knowledge down.”
Most recently that leadership has shown up in Wagner’s decision to show up for voluntary offseason workouts and the initial two days of training camp while trying to secure the contract extension he eventually signed on Friday. Frequently, players seeking a new deal stay away from voluntary workouts and in some cases they even hold out during mandatory work such as minicamps or training camp, but Wagner didn’t stay away because he felt it was important, new contract or not, to be present “helping the young guys, doing whatever I can… Just being a leader, you want to send the right message, you want to be here to support the guys. I do feel like the quarterback of the defense is pretty important, so not having that piece would kind of put a damper on the defense, so I just feel like it’s important for our success, so I’m here.”
Carroll called Wagner being present for offseason workouts a case of the linebacker “doing what he has always done. He has been leader. He has been an integral part of everything that we’ve ever been about and he’s continuing to do that.”
Wagner, along with Wilson helped give the Seahawks an all-time great draft class in 2012, and just as was the case heading into the 2015 season, both have signed multi-year extensions this year, ensuring that two of the best players in franchise history will continue their careers as Seahawks.
“We’ve played together for a long time,” Wilson said Friday, hours before Wagner signed his deal. “Bobby and I have goals too, we’re very similar… We want to win a Super Bowl together again, and a few more Super Bowls, and end it the right way. So I mean that’s kind of the mentality.”
Talking about Wagner last season, Wilson said, “He’s the best linebacker in the game and nobody can argue that. He makes our defense tick, he does the right thing, he knows how to do it, and he prepares the right way. One of the things that Bobby and I will always say is don’t get bored with consistency. He believes in consistency, he believes in his approach and how he prepares.”
That consistency is something Wagner takes a lot of pride in more so than any one standout game or season during his career. And his desire to be the best year after year after year is just one reason why Seahawks fans should feel good about Wagner sticking around in Seattle.
“I talk about consistency all the time,” Wagner said in 2017. “I just want to be player who, whenever I’m done, people look back and say, ‘He was very consistent and very productive.’ That’s kind of an unwritten goal for me to reach (100 tackles) each year. It’s good, but there’s more to be done.
“It’s just wanting to be great, wanting to understand, trying to be better, not being satisfied with what I’ve done. I just keep pushing forward. I feel like each year you can grow, each year you can get better, you can find something in your game. I feel like that’s how players like Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, all those guys, they lasted so long—they never were satisfied with what they were doing at that moment.”
Wagner didn’t end up becoming the next Michael Jordan, but by the end of his now extended Seahawks career, he has a real chance to go down as one of those greats.