The offseason is upon us and that means the rumor mill is starting to churn. This time, it’s about the possibility of the Dallas Cowboys signing free agent LB Bobby Wagner.
Last week, the Los Angeles Rams released Wagner. This move was made despite the fact that Wagner signed a five-year, $50 million deal with the team just last offseason. Things sure can change quickly in the NFL.
For the Rams, releasing Wagner was done to recoup some salary cap money. Even after the move, LA is still $14 million above the cap, per Spotrac. They’ve still got more work to do.
For Dallas, the move couldn’t have come at a better time. Three Cowboys LBs are free agents this offseason: Leighton Vander Esch, Anthony Barr and Luke Gifford. Could Wagner wear the star on his helmet next season? Let’s evaluate the situation:
Is Bobby Wagner Washed Up?
The 32-year-old just wrapped up his 11th season. Questioning if the Los Angeles-native’s better days are behind him might come off as brash, but it’s a fair question to ask given his long career.
But his performance in 2022 should leave no doubt he’s still got gas in the tank. Wagner received a 90.7 PFF player grade, which led all LBs. His rush defense grade was a 91.1 (an area Dallas struggled in at times last year), and for pass rushing he scored a 79.6.
Bobby recorded 140 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, six sacks and two interceptions. His play earned him a second-team All-Pro nomination.
Wagner is also incredibly durable. In the last seven seasons, he’s missed just two games. So it would seem the LB has plenty of tread left on his tires.
The Dan Quinn Connection
If Wagner were to sign with the Cowboys, he’d be reuniting with an old friend in Dan Quinn. In 2013 and 2014, Quinn served as the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator.
Last offseason before Wagner signed with the Rams, he flirted with the idea of coming to Dallas. Ultimately, the Cowboys contract offer wasn’t up to Wagner’s standards. But here’s what the LB said about the negotiations in an interview with CNBC:
“We had conversations. I love Dan Quinn and have a lot of respect for him. But between their needs and what they were willing to spend, we couldn’t agree. But there was mutual interest.”
Considering the Cowboys had three LBs hit free agency this offseason, Dallas’ need for the position is greater than it was last year. So the interest should certainly be there from the ‘Boys once again.
Does The Money Work?
Things get less optimistic when you start considering what Wagner might be looking to make with his next deal. When Wagner signed a five-year deal with LA, his highest base salary in a given year was $8.5 million; an affordable number.
But the Cowboys have plenty of internal contract negotiating to do this offseason with Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott. Plus, it’s been rumored that Dak Prescott will receive a contract extension.
This is also the first offseason in which Trevon Diggs and CeeDee Lamb are eligible for extensions. At least one of them is bound to get a new deal.
One positive about Wagner is because LA released him, they’re responsible for the money owed from his last contract. Not the next team he signs with.
Time will tell if that’s enough to persuade Jerry Jones to ink the veteran to a deal. But the team already has a lot on their plate.