Taking Agent: Dive Into Bobby Wagner’s Free Agent Deal With Super Bowl Champion Rams

Indoor linebacker Bobby Wagner gained more experience for his post-career ambition to become the NFL team president by negotiating his own contract for the second time in his NFL career. The dynamics were different than when Wagner negotiated a three-year, $54 million contract extension averaging $18 million annually with the Seahawks in 2019 to become the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL.

Wagner, who turns 32 in June, had to navigate the open market this time around because the Seahawks released him in the days before the free agency began instead of paying $16.6 million in 2022 on a salary cap figure of $20.35 million. He’s learned that NFL teams have concerns about making large financial commitments to older players in non-privileged positions, regardless of performance. The 10-year veteran had 170 career interferences while taking home his eighth consecutive Pro Bowl and second All-Pro team honors last season.

Wagner deal

Wagner signed a five-year, $50 million contract worth up to $65 million through incentives with Ramez. The future Hall of Famer reportedly rejected a multi-year contract from the Ravens that contained $18 million fully guaranteed to stay close to home. Wagner is from Ontario, California, which is 50 miles east of SoFi Stadium in Inglewood where the Rams’ home games are played.

The contract contains guarantees of $20 million, of which $10 million is fully guaranteed upon signature. Wagner’s $5 million signature bonus, $1.5 million 2022 base salary, and $3.5 million Day 5 league year bonus for 2023, includes fully guaranteed funds. Technically, the slate bonus is guaranteed for skill and injury upon signing and the salary cap guarantee begins April 8th. List bonus does not contain compensation.

The other $10 million security deposit comes from Wagner’s $7.5 million base salary for 2023 and $2.5 million on Day 5 of the 2024 League roster bonus. Both are guaranteed injury upon signing and become fully guaranteed next March on the fifth day of the league’s year 2023.

Wagner earned $8.5 million in base salary in 2024 and 2026. His base salary for 2025 is $8 million. There are also $2.5 million in bonuses on Day 5 of the league’s roster of the year in 2025 and 2026.

The deal has $3 million in annual incentives and $2 million based on Wagner’s playing time and Rams’ performance. Wagner gets $250,000 each for 80% or more defensive playing time, and the Rams improve the league standings in points allowed, overall defense or average net yards given up per pass game for a total of $750,000. Taking at least 90% of the rams’ defensive shots is worth $500,000. Reaching the playtime threshold while the Rams are making the playoffs earns an additional $750,000.

One million is tied for Wagner prizes each season. Wagner gets $500,000 for his selection in the Pro Bowl and The Rams improves the league standings from the 2021 season by points allowed, total defense or average yards given up per game pass. It’s $1 million instead for the All-Pro/All-NFL first team by the Associated Press, Pro Football Writers of America, or Sporting News.

Wagner has the right to cancel his contract years in 2024, 2025 and 2026. He must play at least 90% of the Rams’ defensive picks in 2022 and 2023, or earn Pro Bowl honors in both seasons, in order to have the option to get out of the three years Last.

There were questions about how Rams was able to acquire Wagner when news broke that he had agreed to the terms last week. The Rams had just over $8.7 million in salary cap space for 2022, according to the NFLPA, before signing on. Wagner’s cap number for 2022 is just $2.5 million ($1 million in proportional signing bonus and $1.5 million in base salary).

A modest $5 million signing bonus allows Rams to walk out of the deal after one season before an additional $10 million becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of league year 2023, with minimal consequences if Wagner’s skills begin to diminish rapidly this season. Wagner’s cap for 2023 is $12 million while the Rams will have a maximum of $7.5 million with a very short stint in Los Angeles.

In this case, Wagner would have a one-year deal for $10 million because the March 2023 list bonus does not contain compensation. The lack of compensation prevents Rams from reducing the $ 3.5 million owed to Wagner if he is released by the amount of his new deal with another team. Wagner will receive a “double dip” where he will receive $3.5 million from Rams in addition to his full salary from his new contract with another club. With compensation, Wagner will have a one-year deal for $6.5 million because the Rams will be able to recover the $3.5 million owed to him from his next contract. Presumably, none of the incentives will be won in this worst-case scenario.

How serious are Wagner’s incentives?

Wagner described the incentives as “achievable” in a CNBC interview with Jaberi Young. The intent is for Wagner to stay on the field every time and pair him up with 2021 linebacker Ernest Jones as the linebacker.

The incentives needed to qualify are not likely to be earned (NLTBE) so there will be no cap fees during the season due to Rams’ maximum salary restrictions. Any incentive based on what Wagner or Rams achieved statistically during the 2021 season is considered probable and immediately counts towards the salary cap while anything not achieved in 2021 is not initially counted. Wagner’s playing time in 2021 was 89.1%, which is why the minimum playing time is 90%.

Linking individual and group accomplishments together also results in motivation being classified as NLTBE. The three easiest categories of teams to achieve based on the performance of the 2021 Rams are those in Wagner’s contract. The Rams ranked 15th, 15th and 17th last season in points allowed, average net yards given per pass played and total defense. Playtime/Team Improvement incentives are based on performance bonuses in the extension inside linebacker Alec Ogletree who signed with the Rams in 2017, except that the playing time limit was 85% instead of Wagner’s 80%.

Wagner has a legitimate opportunity to earn $2 million in playtime/rams performance incentives annually provided he remains healthy and continues to play quarterback. Over the past five seasons (2017-21), Wagner has been on the field for 94.5% of Seattle’s defensive plays.

Wagner would need to have a career path similar to the off-ball midfielders who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame in recent years to earn any of the honors incentives. Ray Lewis has been selected to the Pro Bowl during each season for the ages in which Wagner is under contract with the Rams (from 32 to 36). He was the first All-Pro team at ages 33 and 34. Brian Urlacher was a professional bowler at the ages of 32 and 33. The All-Pro pick for Derrick Brooks’ last team came when he was 32. He went to the Pro Bowl when he was 32, 34 and 35. The newest recruit, Sam Mills, was named the first team All -Pro and he is 37 years old.

It is conceivable that Wagner would earn the right to withdraw from his contract. Considering Wagner’s age has been a concern this year, he’s tried to get more than $32.5 million, with an additional $9 million in incentives over the last three years of this decade on the open market two years from now for the seasons when he’s 34 and 35 And 36, it would be a risky proposition. If Wagner maintains his level of play, he may be able to use the vacuum to get a better structure for the last three years as there is extra security and some, if not all, incentives are put into the core value of the deal.

last thoughts

The value of Wagner’s contract will depend on how it continues to perform. It’s a one-year deal for $10 million in a worst-case scenario. As long as Wagner is still with Rams next March after the fifth day of the 2023 league season, he guarantees $ 20 million from the contract. Wagner who maintains his current level of play for an extended period of time should let in the final years of the deal. If so, it’s hard to imagine that Wagner wouldn’t have a realistic chance of earning at least $2 million in incentives annually.