Seattle Seahawks' Pete Carroll, John Schneider regret how Bobby Wagner learned of release

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider delivered a mea culpa for the way they handled Bobby Wagner's release, saying they regret how their longtime defensive captain learned of the team's plans to move on.

Wagner voiced his displeasure over the situation last Friday, writing on his Twitter account: "Crazy part about all this. I played there for 10 years & I didn't even hear it from them that I wasn't coming back."

Wagner's tweet came three days after ESPN's Adam Schefter broke the news that the Seahawks had informed him he was being released. The Seahawks had, in fact, told Wagner that he was being released. But he had apparently caught wind of the plan already.

Schneider and Carroll were asked about the mishap on Wednesday as they spoke to reporters for the first time since the scouting combine.

"Yeah, that's on me. I own that," Schneider said.

Carroll interjected to take the blame himself, but Schneider continued: "No, it really is [on me]. I wish I could have handled things better in that regard from a communication standpoint. I owe it to him. The organization owes it to him."

According to Schneider, a complicating factor was that Wagner serves as his own agent. Former Seahawks Richard Sherman and Russell Okung began doing the same while they were in Seattle.

"It's always somewhat awkward when a player represents himself," Schneider said. "We've had some very high-profile individuals represent themselves here, and you never know exactly what's going to happen at the end of the day. So to approach somebody and say, 'There may be a possible trade. Would you consider this?' And then that player comes back to you, that's not a good situation. So from a timing standpoint, I wish I would have handled things differently."

According to Carroll, the Seahawks weren't certain all along that they'd move on from Wagner. Carroll had even mentioned at the NFL combine that he expected Wagner to remain in Seattle, though he also indicated there was uncertainty with Wagner's future.

Schefter's reports on Wagner's release and the trade of star quarterback Russell Wilson were both on March 8.

"I'm guilty, too, because I didn't want it to happen," Carroll said Wednesday. "I wanted Bobby to stay with us forever, and so I kept encouraging John, 'Let's see what all the options could possibly be so maybe there's a way out that we don't have to do this.' So each day was crucial as we were drawing closer to it. And then really, it seemed like when Russell's news went out, then everything hit the fan kind of thing. We were supposed to meet with Bobby a couple days after that, and the timing just didn't work out right. I regret that we didn't do a better job timing wise.

"I don't know how he heard. You all were talking about it left and right, and then your articles were all over the internet and everything about [the possibility of Wagner being released], so the suggestions were out. But ... it's a hard deal. It's really hard."

Wagner, 31, is one of the most decorated players in Seahawks history. He owns the franchise's all-time tackles record, was named to the Pro Bowl in each of the past eight seasons, earned first-team All-Pro honors six times and was the last remaining star player from the "Legion of Boom" defense that led Seattle to its lone Super Bowl title.

"Too much respect to have something like that happen," Schneider said. "We did speak with him. We did talk to him together. We walked through things. So it wasn't like we didn't speak with him. It was just the timing."

Wagner's release cleared $16.6 million in salary-cap space. He was set to make that much in the final year of the three-year, $54 million deal he negotiated in 2019. Schneider declined to say if the Seahawks offered him the chance to return for less money. But he seemed to signal that there was no such offer when asked if there was another option for Wagner to remain in Seattle other than playing out his existing contract.

"I would say no," Schneider said.

Schneider noted that players who represent themselves don't have the "buffer" of an agent.

"When you represent yourself -- I'm just speaking if it was me -- I'd be talking to as many teams, I'd be talking to as many agents as I possibly could," he said. "I'm not discouraging players from ... representing themselves. I'm not going down that road at all. I'm just saying when you do have an agent, there's a certain buffer that goes on there. That being said, from a communication standpoint, so much respect that we owe that to him."

Wagner, a free agent for the first time in his career, remains unsigned.