Bobby Wagner has emerged as a candidate for the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency, with the team interested in the former Seattle Seahawks linebacker, according to multiple media reports.
Wagner was released by the Seahawks on March 9 after 10 seasons with the club as the team undergoes a significant rebuild that included trading away star quarterback Russell Wilson.
A 6-foot, 242-pound Utah alum, Wagner first joined the Seahawks as a second-round pick in 2012 and quickly became one of the most consistent performers on their defense. He was an eight-time All-Pro, eight-time Pro Bowler, led the NFL in tackles in 2016 and 2019 and helped Seattle to a Super Bowl XLVIII victory after the 2013 season.
In his career, Wagner has 1,383 tackles, 23.5 sacks, 60 passes defended, 11 interceptions, six forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries and four defensive touchdowns.
He has not showed signs of slowing down much at age 31, either. Wagner played and started in 16 games in 2021 for the third consecutive season and set a career high with 170 tackles.
The Steelers have dealt with injuries, lack of depth and under-performance at inside linebacker for two straight seasons now. The team lost Devin Bush Jr. to an ACL injury mid-2020 and he did not appear to be fully recovered from the ailment while going through a disappointing 2021 season.
Trade acquisition Joe Schobert and backups Robert Spillane and Marcus Allen also failed to impress when given opportunities. Allen and Spillane are set to become restricted free agents, while Schobert is a candidate to be released due to his high salary cap hit.
That has made inside linebacker one of the Steelers’ top priorities entering the 2022 offseason, but the draft class is not expected to be particularly deep, with Georgia’s Nakobe Dean and Utah’s Devin Lloyd likely off the board when the Steelers pick at No 20.
Kansas City’s Anthony Hitchens, Arizona’s Jordan Hicks and New England’s Kyle Van Noy are other inside linebackers that are expected to hit free agency when the contact period begins on Monday.