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Saints should save Bobby Wagner from Seattle’s sinking ship

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The three-time All-Pro deserves better.

SEATTLE, WA:  New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) directs protection calls from under center against the Seattle Seahawks defense during their 2013-2014 NFC Divisional Playoff Game at CenturyLink Field.
SEATTLE, WA: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) directs protection calls from under center against the Seattle Seahawks defense during their 2013-2014 NFC Divisional Playoff Game at CenturyLink Field.
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks are on the decline. Head coach Pete Carroll did the right thing by jettisoning his wayward coaching staff but their replacements are puzzling. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is a legacy hire who has delivered underwhelming squads for nearly a decade. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr is a deputy who won’t question Carroll’s directives.

Seattle is a team in flux trying to rally around a winning, aging head coach in the face of young challengers from Sean McVay’s Los Angeles Rams to Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers. The Arizona Cardinals are actively looking for their new leader in the wake of Bruce Arians’ retirement. Young stars like Jimmy Garoppolo, Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald, Jared Goff, Reuben Foster, and Cooper Kupp are at the gates.

Russell Wilson turns 30 this year, Carroll is looking at 67, and the Seahawks are running out of resources. It sure looks like Carroll is trying to will the Seahawks back to title contention through his force of personality, but I don’t think they can go the distance. They’re in the midst of cap hell with the fourth-fewest players signed (46 of 90) and the seventh-least cap space. On top of that, they have fifteen players headed for unrestricted free agency. And to cap it all off, they’re down to just one draft pick in the first three rounds. Their stock is plummeting.

I don’t think Bobby Wagner wants to be traded. He has enjoyed his career in Seattle and wants to retire there. He’s been named to three All-Pro lists there. But things have gotten rocky lately as he’s played through injury and feuded with teammates. it makes sense from the Seahawks’ perspective. They’re the rare team that could view such a move as not cutting off their nose to spite their face.

Per OverTheCap.com, Wagner is Seattle’s second-highest salary cap hit behind Russell Wilson at $13.6-million. Trading him would free up $8.4-million of that against the salary cap, money that could be used to mend the offensive line that Tom Cable broke or pursue a game-changing running back to build around like Dion Lewis. They still have K.J. Wright, Wagner’s longtime running-mate, to build around.

Seattle could potentially find a young player like Wagner in the draft. New Orleans could offer Seattle things they don’t have, like a 2018 third round pick. Throw in one of the Saints’ 2018 fifth round picks and some beignets to sweeten the deal.

Full disclosure: this is all speculation driven by (A) my personal desire to see a great middle linebacker in New Orleans, and (B) my anxiousness on New Orleans identifying a great middle linebacker in the draft. I’ve been the first to praise Jeff Ireland’s scouting staff, as well as Mike Nolan’s coaching influence, but it’s been so long since the Saints had a blue-chip field general that I’d rather they go all in on Wagner before betting on a rookie. We as a fanbase moved on from Stephone Anthony remarkably well, but that’s not a road I want to go down again.

So bring Bobby Wagner to New Orleans. He won’t turn 28-years old until later this year and has missed just one game in the last three years. Seattle’s Legion of Boom got all the recognition, but Wagner was the conduit that kept things running smoothly between the back end and the front four. He would do a lot to elevate his teammates and erase the pre-snap miscommunications that plagued the Saints all year.

Like many other athletes from around the NFL, Wagner was clued-in to see the Saints’ valiant comeback fall short of a win against the Minnesota Vikings. But he didn’t hesitate to add his voice to the chorus supporting the 21-year old rookie whose mistake sealed the game. This is the kind of leadership you want to see:

One more time, for added clarity: this is all my personal pipe dream. I doubt seriously anything happens. But after a couple of years that saw the Saints trade away fan-favorites like Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, Kenny Stills, and Brandin Cooks, wouldn’t it be nice to turn the tables?