The Baltimore Ravens have been busy during the 2022 offseason. General manager Eric DeCosta and the front office have made several moves in free agency to improve year over year, including signing safety Marcus Williams, defensive tackle Michael Pierce, and offensive tackle Morgan Moses. Now, Baltimore is vigorously pursuing Bobby Wagner.
The Seattle Seahawks surprisingly released the veteran linebacker after spending 10 seasons with the same franchise. While no longer in his prime, Wagner is still highly productive and a leader on and off the field.
The Ravens recently missed out on landing Za’Darius Smith. However, winning the Bobby Wagner sweepstakes could heal all wounds.
The Ravens are aggressively pushing to sign Bobby Wagner
The Baltimore Ravens entered the offseason with multiple pressing needs to address. At the top of the list were the offensive line, defensive line, and secondary. However, the defense also needs a reliable second inside linebacker to pair with Patrick Queen. So, Bobby Wagner has been on the team’s radar since getting released by the Seahawks.
Several contending teams were interested in the eight-time Pro Bowler when he hit the free-agent market. However, the Ravens and Los Angeles Rams appear to be the two frontrunners.
The Rams are reportedly making a strong push to land Wagner to assist in their quest to repeat as Super Bowl champions. Still, John Harbaugh’s squad isn’t going down without a fight.
According to CBS Sports insider Josina Anderson, Baltimore has a “very competitive” offer on the table and feels good about its chances to land Wagner.
If Eric DeCosta can outlast the Rams and secure Bobby Wagner, this could be his best offseason yet.
Wagner’s presence could return Baltimore’s defense to dominance
The Ravens took a significant step back in 2021. They posted an 8-9 record after making the playoffs in three straight seasons. Injuries played a massive role in the team’s struggles, but the outcome was disappointing nonetheless.
Baltimore finished 19th in team defense, allowing 363.4 yards and 23 points per game. The unit ranked dead last against the pass. The Ravens usually boast a formidable defense, but that couldn’t have been further from the case in 2021. The team fired defensive coordinator Wink Martindale and replaced him with Mike Macdonald, who turned Michigan’s defense around in a single season.
Macdonald undoubtedly was excited the Ravens were able to land Marcus Williams in free agency. The former New Orleans Saints star gives this defense a ballhawk at safety to pair with Chuck Clark. If Baltimore can land Bobby Wagner, it could form another dangerous position pairing.
Patrick Queen is heading into his third NFL season. The LSU product possesses the tools to be great, but he still has some developing to do. Wagner sounds like the perfect running mate for a young linebacker. He’s coming off a 170-tackle campaign, which was a down year. Sure, he’s 31 years old, but he’s a Super Bowl champion and probably more motivated now than ever before.
Adding Wagner to a unit that already features Williams, Queen, Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, Odafe Oweh, and Michael Pierce is scary.
Where the front office turns if the All-Pro linebacker chooses the Rams
Even though the Ravens feel they have a very competitive offer for Bobby Wagner, the LA Rams likely do as well. The Super Bowl champions offer him something the Ravens can’t — the opportunity to play at home. Wagner is an LA native. Playing in Seattle to begin his career allowed him to stay on the West Coast. Obviously, playing in an East Coast city could be an adjustment.
If Wagner spurns Baltimore and accepts the Rams’ offer, Eric DeCosta and company must have a backup plan. The free-agent market is getting slimmer. It does feature a few names worth keeping an eye on, though. Kwon Alexander, Kyle Van Noy, and Dont’a Hightower are veterans who could fit nicely for the right price.
DeCosta could also choose to go the conservative route and attack the position in the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s unlikely that the Ravens will select an inside linebacker in Round 1, but they have enough picks to trade up if a player they like falls. Georgia’s Channing Tindall, Wisconsin’s Leo Chenal, and Cincinnati’s Darrian Beavers make a lot of sense as potential Day 2 candidates.
Filling the void through the draft is still not ideal, though. Bobby Wagner has Super Bowl experience, and that’s what the Ravens are aiming for in 2022.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference