Bobby Wagner has a new number, new uniform and a new home in the city in which he was born.
Much of it might seem familiar to Wagner, who will also receive two chances to face his former team in the only division he's ever known as a professional. Wagner isn't the newest Los Angeles Ram solely because of two shots at revenge, but it certainly didn't hurt the Rams' chances of landing him.
"A lot of people think that it went into my decision, being able to play the Seahawks, but I don't have that much hate in my heart," Wagner said during his introductory news conference Monday. "I really wanted to be happy, and I wanted to be close to home, and stay on the West Coast. That was important to me, but playing the Seahawks twice a year was the cherry on top. And I'll make sure they see me every time we play them. Y'all know where I'm at, and I'll tell them, it won't be a quiet game."
Wagner, who earned eight Pro Bowl selections in his 10 seasons with the Seahawks, aims to make noise more than twice a season, of course. With the Rams, the man wearing 45 -- the inverse of his trademark No. 54 worn with Seahawks -- will be expected to bring his All-Pro production to Los Angeles' thinnest position group. He certainly won't be lacking premier teammates. Wagner joins a defense headlined by Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, two elite players who didn't waste much time recruiting Wagner once he was released by Seattle.
"As soon as I got done, when the Seahawks released me, I had Aaron Donald hit me up, and Jalen Ramsey, so there was communication really quick," Wagner said. "And then the process for me was just, at this point in my career, I wanted to be in a place where I could be happy, a place that was close to home, and to be able to be in this situation close to my family, you know I have family in Seattle too, and I just wanted to stay close to them, it was important to me. But then add on a winning organization, is just kind of the cherry on top."
Judging by his fondness of cherries, Wagner might be due for a sundae. He'll spend many a Sunday at SoFi Stadium, formerly enemy territory that is now friendly turf in Inglewood, just south of his native Los Angeles. It's the home of the reigning Super Bowl champions, who thought highly enough of Wagner to pursue him with the hopes he'll bring them more of the sweet taste of victory.
"Yeah, I mean you watch it and admire from afar, you know they're willing to do whatever they can to win," Wagner said. "But I think too, is you have guys like that, players like that who are All-Pros in their own right, they reach out to you wanting to team up, and I think it's special being in a place where they want you to play there, and want you to be there. It's special."
With the local ties factored in, it's not surprising that the Rams' financial offer -- a two-year deal worth $17.5 million in base salary with $10 million guaranteed and a chance to make $23.5 million with incentives -- wasn't what closed the deal for Wagner, who officially signed his contract on Monday. Baltimore offered slightly more money over two years ($18 million versus the Rams' offer of $17.5 million), but the Rams included higher incentives and had the geographical advantage that sold Wagner, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.
That package convinced the six-time All-Pro to move south and join a former rival. He'll hope to keep the Rams atop the NFC West and perhaps the football world if Los Angeles can successfully defend its title.