Veteran ILB Bobby Wagner failed to be named to the NFL Pro Bowl for the first time in the past nine NFL seasons. The problem is, he is every bit as productive on a new team as ever. So what gives?
The Seattle Seahawks released veteran 8X Pro Bowler Bobby Wagner outright after the 2021 NFL season, and he promptly signed on to the LA Rams defense. It was not about a lack of production. After 16 games with the Seattle Seahawks, Wagner had amassed 170 tackles, one quarterback sack, and one interception. The Seahawks simply sought to reboot the roster and promptly traded veteran quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos for a bundle of players and picks.
In 14 games for the LA Rams this season, Wagner has recorded 118 tackles, five quarterback sacks, and one interception. That places Wagner on pace to end this season with 144 tackles, six quarterback sacks, and two interceptions. His production has not waned. In fact, the combination of Bobby Wagner and Ernest Jones is one of the best middle linebacker combinations in the NFL. In 14 games, they have combined for 216 tackles, five tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, six pass breakups, and two interceptions.
Mentoring doesn’t matter?
Rams second-year Ernest Jones’s growth this season, which has been substantial, has been thanks to the mentorship of veteran Bobby Wagner. And that is something that the
In 2021, Seahawks inside linebacker Bobby Wagner earned a Pro Bowl nomination. One year later, with an arguably better all-around performance, Wagner did not earn a Pro Bowl nomination.
So who did earn NFC Pro Bowl berths? New Orleans Saints ILB Demario Davis, and San Francisco 49ers ILB Fred Warner. Davis has just 89 tackles, one interception, and 6.5 quarterback sacks. Warner has just 98 tackles, 2.0 quarterback sacks, and one interception. Statistically, Bobby Wagner is superior to both players. So this cannot be a nomination that is based on NFL statistics or production.
Don’t disrespect the guy
One of the challenges for Wagner was the fact that the Seahawks released him, and he signed with the Rams. Because he played for a new team, a division rival, the Seahawks fans who had voted for Wagner may have stopped supporting their perennial Pro Bowler. And Rams fans, who are even now learning just how good Wagner can play, did not make up the difference in votes cast. But isn’t the NFL Pro Bowl voting supposed to make up for those fickle fans?
The Seattle Seahawks ended the 2021 NFL season with a record of 7-10. The injury-battered LA Rams are 4-10. So the team’s record did not play a role in the 2021 selection process, and should not play a factor in 2022.
This is not just a snub. This is bordering on disrespect for Bobby Wagner, one of the classiest and most respected in the NFL today. But he was waived unceremoniously, and now lost a bid for a ninth consecutive Pro Bowl to arguably lesser players. When is enough NFL Pro Bowl participation enough? I don’t think that eight years is the limit.
I am seldom surprised by the NFL Pro Bowl process, but I am downright disappointed over the fact that a very deserving player named Bobby Wagner not getting his well-deserved nomination. Hopefully, this is something that his teammates will remember, and it will motivate them next season to play that much harder.