5:43pm: Chargers GM Tom Telesco confirmed today that the Chargers won’t use their franchise tag this year, which is the latest indication that Weddle will be able to hit the open market next month, writes Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
12:28pm: Back in January, free agent safety Eric Weddle suggested there’s virtually no chance he’ll re-sign with the Chargers this winter after the relationship between the player and team grew increasingly fractured, particularly toward the end of the 2015 season. Around the same time, Weddle told Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune what sort of factors he’ll prioritize when he reaches the open market, citing a desire to contend for a Super Bowl as an important one.
“In the next three or four years, are they going to be competitive, are they going to be division winners, are we going to have a chance at the Super Bowl?” Weddle asked hypothetically, referring to teams that might pursue him. The veteran safety also mentioned a few more factors that will play a role in his decision: “The division, where they see me fitting, how can I help, will I be what they want, is it a good fit? I think I can play any scheme, so that’s not really an issue.”
Of course, considering Weddle referred to the possibility of winning a Super Bowl with his next team “in the next three or four years,” his definition of a potential contender may be generous. He might not reciprocate interest from a team like the Titans, which still looks multiple years away from legit contention, but a rising club like the Raiders could make a strong pitch to Weddle in free agency, despite the fact that they haven’t been to the postseason in more than a decade.
Weddle, 31, has spent all nine seasons of his NFL career with the Chargers, capped off by what was perhaps his most unusual year since entering the league. After being told by the team that his contract wouldn’t be extended prior to the season, the three-time Pro Bowler reported to camp and played well during the season, logging 76 tackles and six passes defended in 13 games.
While the contract situation was one point of contention between the two sides, the year ended on an even more acrimonious note, with the Chargers reportedly informing Weddle late in the season that he was being fined $10K for remaining on the field during halftime of a game to watch his daughter perform in a dance ceremony. Weddle and agent David Canter initially declined to go public about the fine, but the agent opened up after the Chargers placed the safety on IR in Week 17, a move that was made against his wishes. Per Canter, the team also informed Weddle that there would be no room for him to travel on the team plane to the regular season finale in Denver.
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