Bobby Wagner is available and an intriguing option, but he just doesn’t make much sense for the Detroit Lions.
In a fairly surprising move on the surface, but not that surprising considering the team’s situation, the Los Angeles Rams and linebacker Bobby Wagner agreed to part ways this past week. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the move won’t be official until the start of the new league year in March.
So Wagner will not have a head start on finding his next team in free agency.
The Detroit Lions should be looking at potential additions on all three levels of their defense. The possible departure of Alex Anzalone in free agency would open a hole in the linebacking corps, and in a broad sense the Lions should be seeing what’s out there for a potential upgrade.
Brian DeArdo of CBS Sports has put the Lions on his list of top landing spots for the veteran linebacker. They are ranked 1-5, and the Lions are No. 4 on the list.
"One of the NFL’s biggest surprises last year, the Lions won nine games largely on the strength of their offense. In Detroit, Wagner could strengthen the other side of the ball while serving as a mentor to young unit that includes Aidan Hutchinson, James Houston and Kerby Joseph."
Bobby Wagner just doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Detroit Lions
There’s no debating Wagner’s resume. He’s an eight-time Pro Bowl, a six-time First Team All-Pro, a two-time NFL tackles leader and a Super Bowl champion. He clearly has a lot left heading toward his age-33 season, with 140 tackles, six sacks and 10 tackles for loss last season for the Rams. He was also Pro Football Focus’s highest-graded linebacker for the 2022 season (90.1 overall grade).
Wagner will turn 33 in June. So while he seems to have a lot left, the wall could come quickly. Even on a short deal, say no more than three years in non-detailed terms, he will likely be pretty expensive ($8-$10 million per year?).
The Lions should be an appealing potential destination for Wagner. But if he’s focused on chasing a ring next season, other teams who are potential suitors are closer to that than the Lions are.
For the Lions, trying to sign an older veteran linebacker (Lavonte David?) to replace Anzalone is possibly on the table. So that lines up those of that ilk, like Wagner, to be options. Detroit is more than one piece away from serious contention though, and that type of final piece is what Wagner is at this stage of his career
Never say never, but Wagner and the Lions are not an ideal fit for each other.