Bobby Wagner could be Patriots replacement for Dont’a Hightower

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 26: Bobby Wagner #54 of the Seattle Seahawks (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 26: Bobby Wagner #54 of the Seattle Seahawks (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

While the New England Patriots were putting the finishing touches on their offseason plan of attack, the Seattle Seahawks shook the league to its core. On top of trading Russell Wilson to Denver, Pete Carroll parted ways with future Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Wagner.

Wagner recorded 170 tackles last season, as he was one of the few Seahawks defenders that can actually claim to have had a standout season. That wasn’t enough to keep him in Seattle, as the organization appears to be dipping fully into rebuild mode as a result of their last two moves.

The Patriots need to make some seismic moves if they want to keep up with the rest of the AFC. The defense, led by a veteran in Dont’a Hightower, is one of the best in the conference. However, knowing that Hightower is a free agent, Bill Belichick may need to go big to replace him. 

Wagner is the type of player who could give the defense the jolt they need to go from very good to elite. With Hightower’s future completely up in the air right now, New England has to come up with contingencies. The boldest of those backup plans would involve Wagner.

Will the Patriots swap Dont’a Hightower for Bobby Wagner?

Wagner has made eight straight Pro Bowls while being named a first-team All-Pro six times. The only linebackers in NFL history with more first-team selections are Ray Lewis and Mike Singletary. If he’s even half the player he was a few years ago, he should end up in the Pro Bowl again.

The issues with signing Wagner are twofold. Not only will the Patriots need to create extra cap room to afford him in the first place, but they would have to forgo the possibility of drafting a decade-long starter with the No. 21 pick in the NFL Draft. Still, those are risks Belichick should be willing to take.

Patriots pass rusher Matthew Judon is already trying his luck at recruiting Wagner to play in the heart of New England’s defense. Wagner will likely limit his search to teams that could win a championship, and New England’s history of postseason success might be enough to draw him in.

Even if Wagner is not the unquestioned best linebacker in the game like he was in his prime, he is still one of the top five. Hightower might bolt in free agency, but the Patriots could actually upgrade at his position if they decide to use their cap space on signing Wagner.