GREEN BAY – Rick Wagner is coming home.
The West Allis, Wis., native and former Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman has signed with the Packers, the team announced Tuesday. The eighth-year veteran has started 87 of the 102 regular-season games in which he's played, with almost all of his in-game action coming at right tackle.
Here are five things to know about Wagner:
1. He made his first career start against the Packers
It's true. Wagner started his first NFL game for the Baltimore Ravens as the sixth offensive lineman in a jumbo package against Green Bay on Oct. 13, 2013. The play resulted in a 2-yard run and was one of seven offensive snaps Wagner would see against the Packers that afternoon. He'd start one more game as a rookie before taking over as the Ravens' starting right tackle in 2014.
2. He's been a steady, durable performer over the past seven seasons
Once a starter, Wagner has remained a starter. He started all but one game at right tackle for the Ravens from 2014-16 before signing a lucrative contract with Detroit as an unrestricted free agent in 2017. He started 12 of the Lions' first 13 games last year before a knee injury sidelined him for the final three regular-season contests.
Snapshots of newly-signed Green Bay Packers T Rick Wagner.
3. Wagner shined on some stellar Wisconsin offensive lines
Wagner cracked the Badgers' starting lineup as a redshirt sophomore in 2010 and was named All-Big Ten honorable mention after starting 10 of Wisconsin's last 11 games at right tackle. He moved to left tackle in 2011 and protected Russell Wilson's blindside during the Badgers' Rose Bowl run before earning several All-American honors in 13 starts as a senior. All told, Wagner appeared in 51 games for the Badgers with 37 starts (27 at left tackle and 10 at right tackle). He was named a team captain in 2012 and also was recognized with the Tom Wiesner Award, presented to a Wisconsin-born player who exhibits the qualities of loyalty, hard work, spirit and dedication.
4. Wagner was a standout tight end at West Allis Hale
Wagner's first love was basketball. He almost gave up football entirely before striking a compromise with incoming West Allis Hale coach Scott Otto to stick with the sport. By his senior year, Wagner was rated the ninth-best player and No. 1-ranked tight end in Wisconsin by the Wisconsin Sports Network in 2007. He totaled 39 receptions for 900 yards and six touchdowns, and earned second-team All-Conference honors. Still, he didn't have many scholarship offers and chose to walk-on at Wisconsin. He redshirted his freshman year and eventually put on 80 pounds to complete his conversion to offensive line.
5. He was part of a deep O-line draft class in 2013
Despite being a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2012, Wagner wasn't drafted until the very last pick of the fifth round (168th overall). Current Packers director-football operations Milt Hendrickson was a member of the Baltimore front office that drafted Wagner. According to DraftHistory.com, Wagner was the 15th offensive tackle to be selected in a draft that also produced eventual Pro Bowlers David Bakhtiari, Lane Johnson, Terron Armstead, Eric Fisher, Kyle Long, Travis Frederick and Larry Warford.