Seattle Seahawks' Bobby Wagner admits future with team uncertain despite record season

SEATTLE -- With a huge cap number in 2022 and a potential roster shakeup in the offing after the Seattle Seahawks' worst season in more than a decade, veteran linebacker Bobby Wagner knows his future with the team beyond this year is uncertain.

Even as the perennial All-Pro continues to rack up tackles at a record rate.

"You think about it," Wagner said Wednesday. "You think about what the next year looks like and what the future holds because this was a season that I don't think we all planned for. We didn't plan for the season to go this way, so obviously there's going to be some changes and whether or not I'm part of those changes, I don't know."

Wagner, 31, is set to count $20.35 million against the Seahawks' salary cap next season in what's scheduled to be the final year of his deal. None of the $16.6 million he could earn is guaranteed, so the Seahawks would save that amount against their cap by trading or releasing Wagner while incurring $3.75 million in dead money.

Wagner, who serves as his own agent, negotiated his three-year, $54 million extension in 2019. It made him the NFL's highest-paid off-the-ball linebacker at the time in terms of annual average.

The uncertainty over his future comes as he winds down his eighth straight Pro Bowl season, which is tied for the second-most overall Pro Bowls in franchise history. He has been named a first-team All-Pro six times over his first nine seasons and could be on his way to earning that honor for a seventh time, given how productive he has been this year.

Wagner leads the NFL with 170 tackles, which tops his own franchise record that he set in 2016. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the most combined tackles any player has made in a season since 2000 is 174, a number that Patrick Willis (2007) and Jerod Mayo (2010) both hit.

"I think it's something that ... I'll be reflective on probably after the season," Wagner said of his franchise tackle record. "It's something I'm grateful for. Obviously my teammates play a huge role in that. But then it just, to me, just confirms the consistency that of you just keep doing things the right way and keep taking care of your body and keep taking care of your mind and try to execute and play the game at a high level, there's still room to get better."

Wagner, who's in his 10th season, said he isn't thinking about calling it a career anytime soon.

"I feel like I've got a lot of room to grow as a player, to grow as a leader," he said. "I feel like there's a lot of new technology that's going to let me play a little bit longer, so I'm excited to dive into [that] stuff, and I think we'll see how it works out."

The Seahawks drafted Wagner in the second round in 2012, the same year they took quarterback Russell Wilson in the third. Both franchise cornerstones face uncertain futures, albeit for different reasons. Wagner's 2022 cap charge might have made him vulnerable anyway, but the way Seattle's season has gone adds another layer of uncertainty.

On the same day Wagner broke his own tackle record, the Seahawks blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead against the Chicago Bears in perhaps their most disappointing loss of the season. It officially eliminated them from playoff contention, assured them of a last-place finish in the NFC West and marked their first season with double-digit losses since they went 5-11 in 2009.

"All I can control is these last two games and figure it out from there," Wagner said. "Whatever the team thinks is the best thing to do moving forward, we'll see how that plays out."

Also on Wednesday, the Seahawks placed veteran running back Adrian Peterson on injured reserve, effectively ending his season. The future Hall of Famer joined their practice squad on Dec. 1 and scored a touchdown in his Seattle debut four days later but has been sidelined since because of a back injury.

Peterson's score in Seattle's win over the 49ers moved him into a tie with Jim Brown on the NFL's all-time touchdown list. Coach Pete Carroll said Peterson's back issue arose in the team's first walk-through three days later. He was making progress last week, according to Carroll, but his back wasn't responding well enough to treatment to return.

Said Carroll: "It's been a shame that he just got going, had a big game and then we were trying to keep moving and he just didn't get back from that game, and he hasn't made it back yet."