Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Patriots Passed on All-Pro Linebacker

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T

he New England Patriots are undergoing a transition on the defensive side of the ball but All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner was not a part of Bill Belichick’s plans.

Wagner was released by the Seattle Seahawks in the offseason and appeared to be a great fit for the Patriots. He was named an All-Pro six times and is an eight-time Pro Bowler. Wagner is also coming off a 2021 season where he racked up 170 tackles, the highest season output in his entire career.

Speaking to “The Rich Eisen Show,” Wagner stated that he didn’t hear from the Patriots.

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“I didn’t talk to Bill,” Wagner told Eisen, “I have so much respect for Bill, though. I think it’s mutual.”

Linebacker is definitely a position of need for New England. While the Patriots have Matt Judon Mack Wilson and Ja’Whaun Bentley, there isn’t a lot of depth at the position. Acquiring a player like Wagner would make the front seven nearly impenetrable.

New England will also be without Kyle Van Noy and possibly Dont’a Hightower. While Van Noy’s absence won’t be hard to replace, Hightower was a leader for the Patriots. His performance on the field might have been dipped, but he is still a leader in the locker room.

While Wagner is still performing well, he isn’t exactly a “spring chicken.” At 31 years old, Wagner is nearing the end of his career, especially at such a physically taxing position like linebacker.

Bentley is only 25 years old and Wilson is only 24. Judon is the veteran at 29 years old. While having veteran experience is valuable, it doesn’t seem to be how New England is constructing its roster.

Looking on offense, you have Mac Jones entering his second year in the NFL. At running back, Damien Harris is 25 years old and at wide receiver, DeVante Parker is the elder statesman at 29 years old.

New England is moving into a new era with Jones leading the way. The team is building for the future and trying to return to being one of the best teams in the AFC.

With the NFL Draft continuing to inch closer, Belichick could decide to build out the position by selecting a college star in the first round. Georgia’s Nakobe Dean has been a player linked to New England throughout the draft process.

Also when you look at the Wagner contract ended up getting a five-year $50 million deal with the Los Angeles Rams. That’s a deal that the linebacker wouldn’t have received if he came to New England.

The Patriots started free agency with just $13.4 million in cap space at the start of free agency. Currently, New England has less than a million dollars in cap space.

If the Patriots had acquired Parker, it’s unlikely that they are able to fit Parker under the salary cap. While it might have been nice to get Wagner, a big deal may have done more harm than good to New England’s efforts to rebuild.

So while it might seem like a missed opportunity, Belichick and the Patriots might have been right to pass on Wagner.

If the Patriots had acquired Parker, it’s unlikely that they are able to fit Parker under the salary cap. While it might have been nice to get Wagner, a big deal may have done more harm than good to New England’s efforts to rebuild.

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