The Philadelphia Eagles were one of the top defensive units in the 2022 season. A big reason for that has been the improvements both in the secondary and at linebacker.
The emergence of T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White helped the Eagles become the second-best defense in football and the top unit against the pass. With both players set to hit the open market this upcoming offseason, the need for another linebacker opposite of Nakobe Dean has become a major need.
And boy did a big fish just enter the pond.
Multiple outlets Thursday afternoon confirmed that the Los Angeles Rams and Bobby Wagner have mutually agreed to part ways. Wagner, a future first-ballot hall-of-fame linebacker made the pro-bowl last season while recording over 140 tackles.
Believe it or not, there are both pros and cons to bringing in a player like Wagner. Let’s take a look at both.
Comparing Kyzir White to Bobby Wagner isn’t particularly fair. White had a great season in Philly, but Wagner has been an all-time great player for some top defenses and would be an instant upgrade at the position. As a top-run stuffer and competent pass coverage linebacker, this is the type of move that the team could make as a contending unit.
Helping alleviate pressure off Dean
Because of Wagner’s age (32) and experience, the wealth of knowledge he has would only help a young, up-and-coming player like Nakobe Dean. More so, Wagner’s presence would take a lot of pressure off Dean and allow him to be free to make the plays he knows he can make without needing to put the pressure of being the one issuing calls at the line of scrimmage. Having an experienced linebacker is always beneficial, but one as good as Wagner would be excellent for Dean.
No signs of slowing down
Let’s be fair, father time hasn’t made its move on Bobby Wagner at this point. The 32-year-old linebacker hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Wagner has recorded over 100 tackles in every single season of his career and has been a major model of consistency. Based on the numbers alone, there is no need for the Eagles to worry about the tread on his tires.
The numbers may not show that Wagner is on a decline, but father time doesn’t always come gradually. Time can creep up on a player without warning and instantly rob a player of what made him great throughout his career. That’s the fear with Wagner. A player who leaves a team that he was with for a long time usually has one good year before hitting a wall for the rest of the twilight of his career. It happened to Brian Dawkins, Donovan McNabb, Randall Cunningham, and countless others. Wagner may be 32, but he’s played a lot of games and that alone could be a concern where the Eagles may not be willing to pay.
The Eagles don’t value high-priced free-agent linebackers. If they did, Wagner could have easily been an Eagle last season when he was released by Seattle. It’s hard to see a path of the team taking where they’d be willing to spend over $10 million for an aging, but still, great linebacker if they feel that value can be spent elsewhere. And quite frankly, the way the Eagles have been built in recent years, it’s hard to argue against that.
How a player fits within a system is just as important as who the player is. We’ve seen evidence of great players being put in different systems and not playing up to their usual standard. There’s a lot of unknown when looking at Bobby Wagner, but also about the Eagles’ defense. They have yet to hire a new defensive coordinator, and several free agents may not be back next season. There are a ton of unknowns that stand in the way of the Eagles and Bobby Wagner coming together to iron out a deal. And with that standing in the way, it may be best for Philadelphia to remain steady.
AP Photo/Kyusung Gong