With Bobby Wagner’s release from the Seattle Seahawks, one team jumps out as the perfect landing spot for the future Hall of Famer: the Baltimore Ravens. Wagner would be the second Legion of Boom-era Seahawk to join the Ravens in the Lamar Jackson era, and this marriage makes perfect sense for both sides.
Good Decision for Wagner
Wagner likely wants to go to a team that has a reasonable chance to win a Super Bowl. According to Caesars, the Ravens are 20-to-1 to win the Super Bowl. While they are not in the first group of teams, they are a dark horse threat who might be undervalued at the moment. Heading into the 2021 season, the Ravens were 14-to-1 to win the Super Bowl after being just 5-to-1 in 2020.
Since John Harbaugh became the coach of the Ravens in 2008, they have won 10 or more games eight times including a 14-win season in 2019. They have made the playoffs nine times including three of the last four seasons. They also tacked on a Super Bowl in Wagner’s rookie season.
If Wagner cares about his legacy, winning a Super Bowl with Ray Lewis’ team would be a strong selling point. Lewis is often regarded as the best middle linebacker in NFL history, and he helped the Ravens win two Super Bowls. Wagner won one with the Seahawks in 2013, but his second ring has eluded him. Winning one with the Ravens would be similar to Peyton Manning tying John Elway in Super Bowls while winning one with Elway’s franchise. The same would apply to LeBron James if he managed to win a fifth NBA Finals for the same team Kobe Bryant won five titles with.
Legacy does not always matter the same for players, but it would be quite the feather in Wagner’s cap to lead a second team to a Super Bowl. He could command top dollar, and the Ravens have a history of great play at the middle linebacker position with 16 Pro Bowl seasons from Lewis and C.J. Mosley. Wagner has made the last eight, tacking on six All-Pro nods.
Good Decision for the Ravens
The Ravens have a variety of needs across the field, but one of the more under-the-radar needs is a middle linebacker. Baltimore has invested in the position with the likes of Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison, but both of them are still learning the position. Queen improved significantly in Year 2, but he is still out of position constantly, and he can struggle in coverage. Harrison similarly is not trusted by the Ravens’ staff in key situations.
Wagner would be an immediate short-term upgrade. He would be the best linebacker on the team for the duration of his tenure, but the most important element might be his role as a leader. Wagner could be a player-coach in a way and mentor both Queen and Harrison into productive pros. Even being in the same locker room likely would make Queen and Harrison that much better.
The Ravens are in dire need of leadership across the defense. Veterans Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams are likely on their way out of Baltimore. The Ravens are hemorrhaging veterans, but Wagner could step in and be a bridge between the Williams era and the next era of Ravens’ leaders.
No team in NFL history dominates the compensatory formula like the Ravens. Despite not existing from 1993 to 1995, the Ravens have earned the most picks from the formula. Historically, the Ravens will prioritize their elite pieces and part ways with their good-to-great pieces.
For example, the Ravens retained the likes of Lewis, Ed Reed, Marshal Yanda, and Jonathan Ogden. Even a four-time Pro Bowler in Mosley found his way out of Baltimore. In 2021, both Yannick Ngakoue and Matt Judon left while Baltimore solidified its core of elite players (including Lamar Jackson, Ronnie Stanley, Marlon Humphrey, and Justin Tucker).
The Ravens tend to limit their true free-agent spending to not impact the compensatory formula. When they acquire Pro Bowl-level players, it is often in trades (Calais Campbell) or in signing players who were cut from their franchise (Kevin Zeitler). The Seahawks cut Wagner, so he will not count against Baltimore’s compensatory picks.
Wagner is the best linebacker on the market, so there is not a true comparison, but signing Wagner over a different priority free agent does not hurt the Ravens. If the Ravens were to sign Tyrann Mathieu or Marcus Williams, the loss in compensatory picks would negate the gain in compensatory picks from losing a player like Campbell. With Jackson set to earn a massive contract, each compensatory pick becomes that much more important for the Ravens and their future.