Bobby Wagner secured the largest contract for an off-the-ball linebacker, snagging a three-year, $54 million extension from the Seattle Seahawks over the weekend. Wagner bargained for that contract himself, eschewing an agent. Without a paid advisor, the linebacker got his advice from the most famous of athletes: Michael Jordan.
Wagner said he spoke to Jordan, the six-time NBA champ and current owner of the Charlotte Hornets (formerly Bobcats), about the dynamic of negotiations from a player and owner's perspective.
"We got a chance to really sit down and just have a conversation with him," Wagner said, via ESPN. "We talked about his playing days, talked about his mindset -- tried to steal some of his mindset -- talked about training, talked about a bunch of different things. I asked him how he would feel if one of the players came and tried to negotiate a deal. What would be different? How would he see it? We just talked about a lot. It's just really cool to have a guy like that in your corner and have a guy like that willing to take the time to speak to you and take the time to give you that knowledge, pass the knowledge down. I felt like I could have asked him anything."
Wagner said the goal in representing himself wasn't necessarily to prove he didn't need an agent to secure the largest payday for a linebacker -- no one deserved it more -- but rather to grow as a person, and so that any negatives the Seahawks might have to say, they'd be forced to say it to his face.
"My goal was to challenge myself and if anything I want players to leave wanting to educate themselves," Wagner said. "Whether they want to do it themselves or have an agent, no matter what the situation is, you got to know the business and you got to educate yourself to what's in your contract, how they got there, how they got to those numbers.
"I feel like there's two negotiations: there's one between the GM and the agent and there's the agent and the player, because you're not in that room. You might miss some things that's not being talked about. My thing is, how I looked at it, I didn't want them to say all the bad stuff to the agent, I wanted them to say it to my face. I could take it."
To be frank, there isn't much negative to say about Bobby Wagner. He's at the top of his game, the best off-ball linebacker in the league, who stuffs the run with the strength of a bull and can cover the jitteriest of bugs out of the backfield.