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LB Bobby Wagner grateful to return to Seahawks: 'I never really wanted to leave in the first place'

Bobby Wagner's exit from the Seattle Seahawks last offseason was surprising and a bit awkward. His return to the Seahawks this offseason might have been a surprise to Wagner based on the way things had played out, but it has been anything but awkward.

"It just seemed like the right thing," Wagner told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk on Wednesday. "Everybody was excited to have me back in the building, but even like walking around, going to the store, things of that nature, you could just feel that there's a lot of love and support here. So I'm grateful that that's what it is. I'm grateful for how the fans have re-embraced me."

Just over a year ago, Wagner signed a five-year, $50 million deal with the defending-champion Rams. Not only was Wagner signing with a division rival of the Seahawks, but there was some tension in the air over how Seattle handled the release of Wagner, one of the franchise's most beloved and tenured players.

When Wagner left, he assumed it was for good. Not only was his new contract with L.A. a multi-year deal, but Wagner felt like he had seen this movie play out previously with other Seahawks veterans as they were let go by the team.

"I thought when I left, that was the end," Wagner said. "You know, if you watched the guys that kind of left before me, there have been some moments when you thought someone was gonna come back, whether it was Richard (Sherman) or K.J. (Wright) or whoever, but it just didn't happen for whatever reason. So I didn't think that this was in the cards, but I'm happy it played out this way."

Wagner signed a one-year deal to return to the Seahawks on March 25. He said it was a "true mutual decision" to part ways with the Rams after only one especially tough season. Although Wagner had a productive season with a career-high six sacks, being named second team All-Pro, the Rams crashed to a 5-12 record that included a six-game losing streak.

The Seahawks struggled to stop the run last season, ranking 30th in that category. And with Cody Barton leaving for Washington in free agency and Jordyn Brooks suffering a torn ACL in January, there was a clear need -- and desire -- from Seattle to want a reunion.

The Rams, who owe Wagner money on his previous deal, could not release him until the start of the league year. In a separate conference call with media on Wednesday, Wagner indicated that once he was a free agent, he and the Seahawks cleared the air over his 2022 release from Seattle and started working toward a new contract to bring him home.

Wagner also said he had other suitors -- some of which were willing to pay him more this season. But by then, he had his mind set on returning to the city where he became a star initially.

"I never really wanted to leave in the first place," Wagner said.

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