Eric Weddle is officially closing the book on his career as a member of the San Diego Chargers, which should come as no surprise. And despite strong recruitment from the Cowboys, Steelers, and Raiders, Weddle is the newest member of the Baltimore Ravens. The team’s official website reports that the safety will sign a four-year, $29 million deal to start the next chapter of his career. Weddle confirmed the news himself just before 11 a.m. Monday morning via his Twitter account.
RAVEN BOUND!!!!!!!!!!— Eric Weddle (@weddlesbeard) March 14, 2016
Eric Weddle, a three-time Pro-Bowler, elaborated on his decision via a text message to the San Diego Union Tribune, saying, “I couldn’t be more excited and pumped to be a part of a championship organization who wanted me from Day One.”
In addition to Dallas and Pittsburgh, Weddle eschewed the Oakland Raiders despite the best efforts from Bruce Irvin, the former Seattle Seahawk who recently signed with Oakland and tried to convince Weddle into joining him, which would have allowed the long-time Charger the opportunity to face his former team twice a year.
Raider nation I tried! We still Gon have town bidness turnt every Sunday!— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) March 14, 2016
It was clear a rift was forming between Eric Weddle and the Chargers before the 2015 season. Weddle was hopeful that he and the team would agree to a long-term contract extension, but those feelings were evidently not mutual. Out of frustration, Weddle skipped voluntary offseason workout programs, saying he felt disrespected by the organization that drafted him in 2007. To add injury to insult, the Chargers placed Weddle on injured reserve against his wishes before the regular season concluded. This, after the team fined him for watching his daughter’s cheerleading halftime show instead of joining his teammates in the locker room.
The Ravens aren’t typically a splashy free-agent team, preferring to build through the draft. But adding Eric Weddle to an inconsistent secondary became a priority this offseason. The 31-year-old has 850 combined tackles, 19 interceptions, 71 pass breakups, and six and a half sacks in his nine-year NFL career. His addition likely means the end of the road for either Will Hill or Kendrick Lewis. Weddle fills a void the Ravens have been desperately trying to fill since Ed Reed’s departure in 2012. Weddle will bring the intangibles and durability that Reed provided the Ravens secondary for so many years.
The Chargers, meanwhile, lost one of their mainstays and faces of their franchise. Only three players on the roster have been with the organization for more than four seasons: Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and Mike Scifres. What the Ravens expect Eric Weddle to bring to their team the Chargers felt he lost during the end of his tenure there. San Diego recently signed Dwight Lowery as a possible replacement who spent last season with the Indianapolis Colts. The Chargers own the third pick in the upcoming NFL Draft and could turn to secondary help with that pick, although they have plenty of holes to fill.
As far as the contract Baltimore is presenting to Eric Weddle, $13 million of the $29 million is guaranteed, with a $9 million salary for the 2016 season. That number would make Weddle the second-highest paid player at his position, behind only Kansas City’s Eric Berry, who will make $10.8 million after being hit with the franchise tag by the Chiefs, and $7 million of that comes in the form of a signing bonus. Weddle is expected to earn $4 million in 2017, and there are roughly $3 million in incentives over the duration of the contract.
Eric Weddle is expected to arrive in Baltimore on Wednesday in order to take a physical and officially sign the new deal.
[Photo by Denis Poroy/AP]