Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner is happy to be playing close to home, but he made it clear Friday that he never wanted to leave the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks released Wagner in March as a cost-cutting move, and he told Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times this week that the move flew in the face of his desires:
"I didn't want to leave Seattle. But if I was going to leave Seattle, home was the next-best thing for me and so being able to be home, like, I'm at peace with the situation. But still, any competitor is looking forward to going back to the place that you played that they felt like you didn't have nothing left and proving them wrong."
After putting together a Hall of Fame resume in 10 seasons with the Seahawks, Wagner is now playing for his hometown team and one of Seattle's NFC West rivals in the Rams.
The 32-year-old Wagner was a second-round pick by Seattle in the 2012 NFL draft out of Utah State, and he went on to become one of the greatest players in franchise history.
Wagner racked up eight Pro Bowl nods, six first-team All-Pro selections and won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks. He was also named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's All-Decade Team for the 2010s.
He registered 100 or more total tackles in each of his 10 seasons in Seattle and finished with 1,383 tackles, 23.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, nine fumble recoveries, six forced fumbles and four touchdowns in all.
Wagner missed just two games over the past six seasons, and even in his final season with the Seahawks, he was highly productive with a career-high 170 tackles.
The Seahawks went to great lengths to trim salary this offseason after missing the playoffs last season, releasing the face of their defense in Wagner and trading leader of their offense in quarterback Russell Wilson.
Seattle saved $16.6 million against the cap by cutting Wagner, which aided the organization significantly in terms of starting its rebuild, or at least its retooling phase.
Wagner wasn't on the market long, as he signed a five-year, $50 million deal with the Rams, marking a huge addition to a Los Angeles team that won the Super Bowl last season.
Despite the fact that he is back in his hometown of L.A. and is playing for the enemy, Wagner still has an affinity for the city of Seattle.
As noted by Condotta, Wagner plans to maintain a residence in Seattle, and he took part in a King County Boys & Girls Club event this week before he heads south for Rams training camp.