I don’t want Wagner to go. He might be Seattle’s only true first-ballot Hall of Famer on the roster and it would be awesome to see him retire as a Seahawk. Maybe he still will. But Wagner is due a ridiculous amount of money in 2022 and isn’t the impact player he once was.
Yes, Wagner leads the NFL in tackles currently. He is still very good. But Seattle’s defense is designed to have the linebackers eat up tackles. Plus, Wagner has tackled more in space this season because quarterbacks are completing so many crossing routes in space vacated by Seattle’s linebackers that Wagner has to make those tackles.
Wagner is starting to miss more tackles, though. He has missed 6.6 percent of his attempted tackles this year compared to .7 percent in 2018. Where once we would see a running back break through the line and get stood up by Wagner (think David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals a few years ago) this year we see more of Wagner not stopping a back in his tracks (think AJ Dillon of the Packers on a short touchdown run).
These kinds of plays are now being made more by Wagner’s linebacker teammate, Jordyn Brooks. In fact, should Wagner not play in Seattle next year, Brooks would slide over to Wagner’s mic position and be nearly as good.
In 2021, Wagner has his fewest tackles for loss (3) since 2015 and his fewest quarterback hits (3) ever. He makes tackles but has fewer impact plays. Next year, Seattle would owe him $20.35 million. By releasing him the Seahawks would save $16.6 million. That may be too much saving to pass up.