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Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took blame for how Bobby Wagner’s release played out – and expressed regret for how they handled the breakup.
The longtime Seahawks linebacker was released by the team last Tuesday, just hours after Seattle traded quarterback Russell Wilson to the Broncos in a blockbuster deal.
Three days later, Wagner tweeted his displeasure with Seattle, writing, “Crazy part about all this. I played there for 10 years & I didn’t even hear it from them that I wasn’t coming back.”
When asked about Wagner’s release on Wednesday, Schneider told reporters, “Yeah, that’s on me. I own that.”
Carroll attempted to take some of the blame, but was stopped by Schneider.
“No, it really is [on me],” Schneider said. “I wish I could have handled things better in that regard from a communication standpoint. I owe it to him. The organization owes it to him.”
Schneider said “timing” played a factor in how Seattle communicated the news, but noted that Wagner being his own agent made for a sticky situation.
“It’s always somewhat awkward when a player represents himself. We’ve had some very high-profile individuals represent themselves here, and you never know exactly what’s going to happen at the end of the day,” he said, adding that players who represent themselves don’t have the “buffer” of an agent.
“So to approach somebody and say, ‘There may be a possible trade. Would you consider this?’ And then that player comes back to you, that’s not a good situation. So from a timing standpoint, I wish I would have handled things differently.”
Former Seahawks Richard Sherman and Russell Okung represented themselves while playing for Seattle.
Schneider said he and Carroll spoke to Wagner and delivered the news at one point.
“Too much respect to have something like that happen,” he said. “We did speak with him. We did talk to him together. We walked through things. So it wasn’t like we didn’t speak with him. It was just the timing.”
Carroll expressed his regret for how things played out with Wagner and said he wanted the All-Pro to stay in Seattle.
“I’m guilty, too, because I didn’t want it to happen,” Carroll said Wednesday. “I wanted Bobby to stay with us forever, and so I kept encouraging John, ‘Let’s see what all the options could possibly be so maybe there’s a way out that we don’t have to do this.’ So each day was crucial as we were drawing closer to it. And then really, it seemed like when Russell’s news went out, then everything hit the fan kind of thing. We were supposed to meet with Bobby a couple days after that, and the timing just didn’t work out right. I regret that we didn’t do a better job timing-wise.
“I don’t know how he heard. You all were talking about it left and right, and then your articles were all over the internet and everything about [the possibility of Wagner being released], so the suggestions were out. But … it’s a hard deal. It’s really hard.”
Before his release, Wagner was set to make $16.6 million this season, the finale of the three-year, $54 million deal he negotiated in 2019.
When asked if there was another option outside his contract for Wagner to remain in Seattle, Schnider said, “I would say no.”
Schneider declined to say if the Seahawks asked Wagner to return for less money.
Now Wagner, is a free agent for the first time in his career, which began when the Seahawks selected him in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
According to ESPN, the Cowboys have already reached out to the linebacker, who recorded a career-high 170 combined tackles in 16 games last season.
Wagner, who turns 31 in June, led the league in tackles in 2016 and 2019. He also earned a team-record eight All-Pro selections – six of them first-team – and was selected to the Pro Bowl eight straight years beginning in 2014.