PHOENIX -- The top of the market for inside linebackers just shot way up, but the rising price tag doesn't seem to have dampened coach Pete Carroll's optimism about the Seattle Seahawks getting an extension done this offseason with Bobby Wagner.
Speaking from the owners meetings on Tuesday, Carroll didn't have much to say about a possible extension for quarterback Russell Wilson, who like Wagner is entering the final year of his contract. But the coach expressed confidence that Seattle would be able to lock up its All-Pro linebacker.
"Absolutely," Carroll said when asked if talks have begun with Wagner. "We have met with Bobby just kind of in prelude to what it takes to do that. He's an incredible player and been an incredible part of our program and the community and all that. Bobby's going to be a Seahawk."
Wagner, who will turn 29 in June, has made five consecutive Pro Bowls while being named a first-team All-Pro four times in that span. He has topped 100 tackles every season since Seattle drafted him in the second round in 2012, and according to ESPN charting, he leads the NFL in tackles over the past five seasons with 656.
It's no surprise that the Seahawks want to extend Wagner, given his production and his increased importance to a defense that is more centered around him following the departures of Pro Bowlers Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and now Earl Thomas. But Carroll's confidence that a deal will get done is noteworthy, given the financial landscape at the position.
C.J. Mosley, who has made the Pro Bowl in four of his five seasons but has yet to make the All-Pro team, is now the league's highest-paid inside linebacker after joining the New York Jets on a deal that averages $17 million per season. Kwon Alexander of the San Francisco 49ers is next at $13.5 million, according to Spotrac.com. Wagner's current deal averages $10.75 million.
The negotiating dynamics will be different this time as compared with when Wagner signed his last extension in 2015. He is without an agent and is representing himself. Left tackle Russell Okung also had ditched his agent when he left the Seahawks in 2016, as had Sherman when Seattle released him last offseason.
"It's more challenging [for players representing themselves] that they can know, because to get through the process, there's a lot to it," Carroll said. "Bobby's going to have good support around him; he has asked a lot of questions so that he will be prepared to deal with it, and I know he'll do a good job and all. But it's maybe more difficult than I think a guy can imagine going into it the first time. The conversations and issue and stuff to learn and all that, I think he's looking forward to that, just to see what it's all about.
"We have a great relationship with Bobby and tremendous respect for him, and he does for the organization, so I don't think there will be any problems -- but I do think it's challenging. We'll just work our way through it. But all the intentions are that we're going to get something done and we're going to have him, so that's understood. He understands that as well, so we've just got to figure it out."
"That might have been the best thing we did to negotiate with Bobby," Carroll said with a chuckle. "Those guys are great friends, and they're just warriors. They've been through it all together. Bobby was instrumental in the whole process."
If the Seahawks follow their normal order of offseason business, an extension for Wagner wouldn't come until after next month's NFL draft. That is when they typically have done early extensions for players already under contract for the upcoming season. It wasn't until the start of training camp in 2015 that the Seahawks extended Wilson and Wagner within days of each other.
As for any talks on an extension for Wilson, Carroll said only: "We've been in communication, sure. It's very topical. We're on it."