Skip to main content

News | Washington Commanders -

Five things to know about Bobby Wagner

MicrosoftTeams-image (21)

The Washington Commanders have injected some veteran leadership into their linebacker room by signing perennial Pro Bowler Bobby Wagner. Here are five things to know about the newest leader on defense.

1. He was a baller at Utah State.

This might come as a bit of a surprise to some, but Wagner, widely recognized as one of the best linebackers of the modern era, was not a highly recruited player coming out of Colony High School in Ontario, Canada. He was only a two-star prospect and received just one college offer from Utah State.

Shoutout to the Aggies for recognizing how talented Wagner was, and the linebacker repaid that faith repeatedly.

Wagner immediately established himself as a key piece of the Aggies' defense, starting nine games during his freshman season and maintaining his status in the lineup for the entirety of his college career. He led the WAC conference in tackles as a sophomore and junior, which helped him wrap up his time Utah with 445 stops. As a senior, Wagner was the WAC Defensive Player of the Year, leading the team with 147 tackles, four sacks and a pair of interceptions.

Wagner's time with the Aggies was highlighted by multiple First Team All-WAC selections. He tied a school record in tackles and helped Utah State reach its first bow appearance in 14 years. For his efforts and contributions to the program, Wagner was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame, further cementing his legacy.

2. His only pick-six was a memorable one.

Wagner is known as one of the most prolific tacklers in NFL history, ranking seventh all-time with 1,706 stops. Interceptions haven't come for him as frequently, but he does have a healthy amount with 13 in 12 years. Only one of his picks has been returned for a touchdown, but it remains one of the most memorable moments of his career.

The play came in Week 12 of the 2018 season. Seattle, who had won its previous two games to get above .500, entered the game needing another win to stay afloat in the playoff hunt. Fortunately for Seattle, they easily handled the 49er in a 43-16 victory, and it was Wagner who provided the dagger.

Quarterback Nick Mullens dropped back at the Seahawks' 5-yard line, looking to at least close the gap on a 37-16 deficit. Mullens' pass was picked off by Wagner, who faced almost no opposition as he raced 98 yards for the touchdown.

The play was the nail in the coffin that give Seattle its third straight victory, which was part of a stretch that saw the Seahawks win six of their last seven games, but it was also a monumental play in franchise history. Wagner's pick-six broke a team record for the longest by a Seattle defender, and while Devon Witherspoon came close with a 97-yard touchdown last season, the record still stands six years later.

Take a look at some of the moments from Bobby Wagner's career. (Photos via The Associated Press)

3. He's getting better with age.

There comes a time in every player's career when they realize they're not able to have the same level of impact as they want to on the field. It's a harsh, but inevitable part of being in the NFL, and that moment comes for everyone.

Wagner might be an exception to that rule, though.

Wagner, 33, entered his 12th NFL season with the Seahawks after a one-year stint in Los Angeles. He's always been productive -- he's recorded at least 100 tackles in each season -- but anyone who thought the linebacker might be on the decline was quickly proven wrong. Not only did he lead the league with 183 tackles, but he also set a career high in the twilight of his career.

The 2023 season was the latest example of why Wagner is likely headed to the Hall of Fame. He started off the year with 18 tackles against Rams and recorded double-digit stops in 11 of 17 games. He finished off the year with four straight games where he had at least 11 tackles, getting 24 solo stops in the process.

Even more impressive was that Wagner rarely left the field. He played every defensive snap in all but three games.

4. He's excited to be reunited with Dan Quinn.

Prior to signing with Washington, Wagner had never played for an east coast team. His entire career has been out west, so he was going to need a good reason to move his life across the country to continue his career.

That reason happens to be the chance to reunite with head coach Dan Quinn.

"I think DQ does an amazing job of just putting players in the right positions and getting the best out of everybody," Wagner said.

It's been about a decade since Wagner played for Quinn, but the then-defensive coordinator's style left a lasting impression on him. He likes the way Quinn relates to his players and helps elevate their skill set, which judging by the success he had in Seattle and Dallas is one of his strongest traits.

Though it's been a while since Quinn and Wagner have been on the same team, there's still plenty of respect and love between them. The two embraced when Wagner arrived at the team facility, and Wagner feels like he can be an extension of the coaching staff on the field.

Given Wagner's resume as well as his knowledge of what Quinn expects from his players, it makes sense why Quinn would want Wagner to help build a new foundation for Washington's future.

5. He's a legend in Seahawks history.

Wagner had no thoughts of retirement when he entered free agency this offseason, and it's entirely possible that he could play for another handful of years. Maybe he'll even do that with Washington, but Wagner comes to the DMV with what's already considered one of the best careers for a linebacker.

Wagner's placement in Seahawks history is already well established. He's second in solo tackles -- first among linebackers -- and there's a wide margin between him and the third player on the list, who happens to be Joe Nash with his 743 stops.

But there's more to Wagner's skill set than being a problem for ball-carriers. His 27 sacks rank 14th in team history, and his 11 interceptions are tied for 21st. There are also his 63 pass breakups, which rank fourth behind Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Marcus Trufant.

It's not the first time a seasoned linebacker has come to Washington late in his career. London Fletcher did the same thing in 2007 and was beloved by the franchise for the seven years he led the team's defense. It's a bit early to predict whether Wagner will follow the same path, but it's not unreasonable to believe that Wagner could have a significant impact on the roster for however long he's with the team.

Related Content