Eric Weddle

NFC Rumors: Redskins, Childress, 49ers

One of Eric Weddle‘s many suitors came from the NFC East. The Redskins inquired about the safety, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Ben Standig, but Weddle preferred the Rams’ proposal. Washington may be a spot for one of the many starter-caliber safeties on this year’s market, with the team having waived D.J. Swearinger and with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix‘s contract having expired.

Here is the latest from Washington, along with other NFC teams, with the legal tampering period less than 48 hours away.

  • The Redskins’ Case Keenum trade frees them up to make more competitive offers to non-quarterbacks in free agency, instead of seeing Teddy Bridgewater or Tyrod Taylor proposals complicate the team’s plan. However, Washington is still expected to add at this spot this offseason, and Standig notes it won’t be a Josh Johnson reunion — barring a Colt McCoy departure. Another Johnson pact was previously mentioned as a possibility, but that may no longer be in the cards. Washington profiles as a possible quarterback destination in this year’s draft, but in picking at No. 15 and unlikely to trade up, this may be one of the teams that waits for 2020’s higher-profile group of quarterbacks.
  • The rumors of Markus Golden hitting the market look accurate, with AZCardinals.com’s Mike Jurecki tweeting the veteran edge rusher is set for free agency. The Cardinals and Golden engaged in talks earlier this offseason, but nothing of consequence emerged from those discussions. While Golden stands to benefit from the franchise tags handed out to the top-tier pass rushers who could have hit the market, and Jurecki posits a possible Golden reunion with former Cards DC James Bettcher via Giants signing, the former second-round pick has not been productive since the 2016 season. Golden’s ACL tear in 2017 sidetracked his career, halting the momentum he’d created with a 12.5-sack 2016.
  • Brad Childress may be ready to circle back to the Bears. Affiliated with Matt Nagy‘s first Bears staff briefly, Childress then bolted for the Alliance of American Football. But he did not last until the AAF’s opener. However, Childress looks set to rejoin Nagy in Chicago, with NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweeting the former Vikings HC is expected to serve in an offensive consulting role under Nagy. Childress and Nagy worked together with the Chiefs. Childress also retired after the 2017 season, but that turned out to be quite short-lived.
  • The 49ers still want to bring back Jimmie Ward, per NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco, but it doesn’t appear their interest goes beyond the one-year offer they were dangling for the 2014 first-round pick. Ward was thought to be on the outs in San Francisco, but the team did not receive much consistency from its secondary last season. San Francisco’s staff graded the versatile defensive back as the team’s best secondary cog, Maiocco adds, prior to his season-ending injury in November, Maiocco adds.
  • The contract the 49ers gave kicker Jonathan Brown is a two-year deal, the team announced. San Francisco used its franchise tag on Robbie Gould. Brown was with the Bengals during the past three training camps but has yet to play in a regular-season game.

Rams Sign Eric Weddle

A fast-moving Friday will include Eric Weddle landing with a third NFL team. The veteran safety will sign with the Rams, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Zreibec (on Twitter).

With a “Fear the beard” tweet, the Rams appeared to confirm this transaction.

Weddle will join the defending NFC champions, who may now be set to let Lamarcus Joyner walk as a free agent. This is a two-year pact worth $10.5MM and one that could be worth up to $12.5MM, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). He will receive $5.25MM fully guaranteed, per RapSheet (on Twitter).

Weddle had a visit scheduled with the Rams and received 11 offers since the Ravens released him earlier this week, and Albert Breer of SI.com tweets Weddle was at the Rams’ facility on Friday. The 34-year-old safety will be the latest addition to a star-studded roster, albeit one that could take some hits in free agency. Joiner is a free agent after playing 2018 on the franchise tag.

A three-time Pro Bowler with the Ravens and a player with six Pro Bowls on his 12-season resume, Weddle will join John Johnson on Los Angeles’ back line. The longtime San Diego Charger is back in southern California. The Panthers and Giants were two of the teams interested in Weddle, according to Joe Person of The Athletic and Matt Lombardo of NJ.com (Twitter links).

The two-time first-team All-Pro initially said he would retire if the Ravens released him but later backtracked on that. Weddle worked against the Rams in scrimmages last summer and will now attempt to be an integral figure on another defense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eric Weddle To Visit Rams

Eric Weddle‘s free agent tour is underway. The free agent safety has scheduled a visit with the Rams, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

Weddle accrued eleven offers since being released by the Ravens last week, Rapoport hears, but he has trimmed his list down to five potential suitors, including the Rams. At this rate, Weddle may find a home before everyone else’s free agency begins on March 13. An early signing would probably behoove Weddle, too, since this year’s free agent safety market is deep and talented.

Weddle did not miss a game during his Ravens run and combined for ten interceptions between the 2016-17 seasons. Before that, Weddle spent the first nine years of his NFL career with the Chargers where he appeared in 137 out of a possible 144 regular-season games. In that span, Weddle earned three Pro Bowl nods, five All-Pro bids, and 19 interceptions. Since joining the Ravens, he’s added three more Pro Bowl trips, giving him five in total.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Safety Notes: Weddle, Mathieu, Collins

In somewhat of a surprising sequence on Tuesday — some Ravens staffers were surprised by this move, per NFL.com’s Peter Schrager (on Twitter) — Eric Weddle is now a free agent. Although the 34-year-old safety said in January he would retire if he was not part of the 2019 Ravens, he backtracked on that. His stance remains to continue his career, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). On the heels of three Pro Bowl slates in Baltimore, Weddle stands to generate interest as a short-term fix. It will, however, be interesting to see how teams proceed at this position this year — after oddly brushing it aside in 2018. There are far more safeties available this year, giving this the feel of another buyers’ market.

Here is the latest from the safety marketplace:

  • One player whose market may be in better position than it was last year, Tyrann Mathieu will have options. The Texans are trying to re-sign the seventh-year safety, and this process has now produced a preliminary offer, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Mathieu is believed to still want to remain in Houston, Wilson writes, and the parties have been linked to a reunion for months. But with less than a week until the legal tampering period, the 26-year-old defender is a threat to depart.
  • The Ravens already have several veteran contracts in their secondary, helping explain their reasoning to cut Weddle, but Jason La Canfora tweets they may be interested in Mathieu. Tony Jefferson‘s former back-line mate in Arizona, Mathieu would fit Baltimore’s desire for another playmaker at this position, JLC adds.
  • The Giants‘ decision to let Landon Collins hit free agency shocked much of the football-following world, and Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com reports there will be an extensive market awaiting the three-time Pro Bowler and 2016 All-Pro. The Chiefs, Colts and Redskins profile as potential suitors, per Raanan. This move also may affect future Giants negotiations, reminding of how Dave Gettleman‘s tactics as Carolina’s GM rubbed some Panthers the wrong way, with Raanan adding the team made no serious attempt to discuss a long-term deal with its high-profile safety.
  • New York received multiple offers for Collins prior to last year’s deadline, most notably a third-rounder from the Buccaneers, but Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes the Giants were holding out for a second-rounder and possibly another late-round pick as well. Now, they will lose the safety for a compensatory pick — possibly a 2020 third-rounder, but that depends on what the Giants do in free agency.
  • Collins hitting the market should prompt the Colts to pursue him, with Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star writing the team — which uses a system that values safeties more than most teams — needs a strong safety to pair with Malik Hooker. The Colts engaged in discussions with Clayton Geathers‘ reps at the Combine, but it’s not clear where the sides stand in talks on a Geathers return to Indianapolis. The Colts have already re-signed Mark Glowinski and Margus Hunt, but both players were initially Chris Ballard-era additions. Geathers was a Ryan Grigson second-round pick. The Colts still hold more than $100MM in cap space, putting them in strong position to land Collins if they choose.
  • The 49ers remain in the market for a starting-caliber safety, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area (on Twitter). With former Seahawks assistant Robert Saleh running their defense, Earl Thomas is a natural fit. But Maiocco notes the team may not be willing to meet a massive asking price. There are, however, plenty of available candidates beyond Thomas to fill this role.

Ravens To Release Eric Weddle

The Ravens are following through with a rumored cost-cutting move. They will release Eric Weddle, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter).

This move will save the team $7.25MM. Weddle was going into the final year of his contract. He is about to join a crowded safety market.

Eric DeCosta was not definitive about keeping Weddle or fellow secondary 30-something Jimmy Smith. Baltimore’s secondary has been one of the NFL’s best during Weddle’s run, and he made three Pro Bowls during his three Ravens seasons. Weddle, 34, said at the offseason’s outset he would retire if he wasn’t a Raven, but the former first-round pick subsequently walked that back.

Tuesday will add Weddle and Landon Collins to the market. Barring pre-free agency deals, they will join Earl Thomas, Adrian Amos, Lamarcus Joyner, Tre Boston, Tyrann Mathieu, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Glover Quin and others in free agency’s deepest position.

Weddle did not miss a game during his Ravens run and combined for 10 interceptions between the 2016-17 seasons. The Ravens, who did not use their franchise tag on C.J. Mosley, will now hold more than $25MM in cap space. Their acclaimed defense may lose multiple big names, however.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Brown, Ravens, Johnson

The Steelers‘ plan remains to trade Antonio Brown. But Kevin Colbert reiterated they will not pull the trigger if they do not believe the compensation is appropriate.

We will only make a trade if it benefits the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Colbert said, via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com. “He knows that. His representation knows that. That’s been clearly explained, and we’re willing to take a look. If there’s something that can be done to benefit both sides, great. If not, then we’ll deal with that when we get to it.”

Pittsburgh still wants to trade Brown to the NFC, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets the organization is prioritizing compensation over a preferred destination. Colbert said an intra-division trade is not ideal but did not put the Bengals, Browns or Ravens as non-starter suitors, saying “we haven’t eliminated anybody” from the trade picture. Colbert added more teams have reached out, which makes sense with all 32 teams in Indianapolis for the Combine. The Steelers would seemingly prefer to deal Brown before March 17, when his $2.5MM bonus is due, but Colbert said (via Pro Football Talk, on Twitter) the team is open to paying him the bonus and trading him later.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • New Ravens GM Eric DeCosta has said the team wants C.J. Mosley back, and a report indicated they also want to re-sign Terrell Suggs for a 17th season. DeCosta on Wednesday said he expects Brandon Carr to stay put. However, the new front office boss was not as certain on Jimmy Smith and Eric Weddle joining Carr in the 2019 Baltimore secondary, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic tweets. Carr, who will be 33 in May, is due $7MM. Weddle, 34, has one season left on his four-year deal. It would save the Ravens $7.5MM by cutting him. After indicating he would want to retire if the Ravens didn’t want him back, Weddle recently changed his tune. Smith is just 30, and a release would cost the Ravens more than $6MM. But they could save $9MM-plus by making him a cap casualty. Baltimore currently holds barely $20MM in cap space.
  • With Kareem Hunt now in the fold, the Browns‘ backfield is crowded. Nick Chubb will likely be the Cleveland starter for much of this season, with Hunt in line for a suspension that could comprise more than half of the 2019 season. Duke Johnson remains, too, and although he has done his best work in the passing game, Freddie Kitchens said (via cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, on Twitter) the team is not planning to move its passing-down back to wide receiver.
  • The Bengals refuted a report that they are trying to deal 2017 first-rounder John Ross.

Ravens Want Yanda, Weddle To Return

Count head coach John Harbaugh among those who’d like a pair of veteran Pro Bowlers to return to the Ravens next season. Harbaugh told reporters that he’s hoping offensive lineman Marshal Yanda and safety Eric Weddle will be back in 2019.

“Unless something changes along the way, they will be back,” he said (via Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun). “We have talked about all those things, but no decisions have been made. One thing you learn about this whole building a roster around the National Football League and working around the [salary] cap is that no decision stands on its own feet. It’s not sequential, either. It’s not this, then this, then this. It all happens together at once.”

Harbaugh notes that general manager Eric DeCosta and executive Ozzie Newsome are also open to welcoming back the duo.

Weddle, 34, was named to his sixth Pro Bowl this season after compiling 68 tackles, one sack, and three passes defended. Following Baltimore’s playoff loss to the Chargers, the veteran said he’d either be returning to the Ravens or retiring. However, this past week, Weddle changed course, indicating that he’d be open to playing for another team. The defensive back has one year remaining on his contract, and he’ll carry a $8.25MM cap hit. The organization could clear up $6.5MM in space by cutting the veteran.

Yanda made his seventh-career Pro Bowl this season after starting all 16 games for the Ravens. The 34-year-old has spent his entire 12-year career in Baltimore, and the veteran still has another year on his contract. However, the veteran still hasn’t publicly committed to playing in 2019. The Ravens have committed some of their draft choices to offensive linemen in recent years, including using three picks in the 2018 draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Ravens’ Eric Weddle

Recently, Eric Weddle indicated that it’s Ravens-or-bust for him in 2019. Now, he says that’s not necessarily the case. 

I want to finish out [my contract],” Weddle told the Ravens’ team website (Twitter link). “But obviously, decisions have to be made for the future of the team, the organization. They got to do what’s best for them, and I respect that. … [We’ll] see if there’s something to be worked out. If not, then I’ve had an unbelievable experience here and loved every second. So if it does happen, we both move on and then … we’ll see if I’ll play somewhere else or hang ’em up.”

For now, Weddle is set to return at a cap figure of $9.25MM, which puts his Baltimore future in flux. Should the Ravens release him, they’ll save $7.5MM versus just $1.75MM in dead money.

Weddle earned a fifth-career Pro Bowl selection this season, but his age (34) will work against him. There’s also the depressed market for free agent safeties to consider. Last year, safeties with starting experience such as Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, and Tre Boston wound up as afterthoughts. Standout Tyrann Mathieu found a home with the Texans in March, but even he had to settle for a one-year, $7MM deal.

Weddle’s willingness to play elsewhere may help his leverage with the Ravens, but it’s still far from certain that he’ll be retained at his current rate or anything close to it. No matter what, Weddle says he’s excited to return for yet another season.

Who knows what the future holds?” he said. “But I live it up each day and whatever is going to happen is going to be meant to happen for myself and my family, and I’m excited for the future, for sure.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eric Weddle To Retire If Not Back With Ravens

Safety Eric Weddle is hoping to finish out the last year of his contract with the Ravens in 2019. But, if the Ravens won’t have him back, he says he’ll just retire and “ride off into sunset,” (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun). 

Weddle, 34, came to the Ravens in 2016 after he parted ways with the Chargers. His identity was largely intertwined with the Bolts, but he quickly found a fit in Baltimore and, apparently, can’t envision himself playing anywhere else.

Weddle earned his sixth career Pro Bowl nod this year and his age hasn’t slowed him down much, so it would only make sense for the Ravens to want him back. The vet finished out with 68 total tackles, three passes defensed, and graded out at Pro Football Focus’ No. 17 ranked safety in the entire NFL.

For now, Weddle is set to return at a cap figure of $9.25MM. Should the Ravens release him, they’ll save $7.5MM versus just $1.75MM in dead money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Notable 2019 Pro Bowl Incentives/Escalators

The NFL announced the 2018 Pro Bowl rosters earlier on Wednesday, and aside from determining which players will spend a week in Orlando early next year, the rosters also dictate several important bonuses and/or contract escalators for individual players. Former NFL agent and current CBSSports.com contributor Joel Corry has rounded up the notable incentives earned, and we’ll pass those along below. As Corry notes (Twitter link), only first ballot Pro Bowlers who actually participate in the game (unless injured or playing in the Super Bowl) are in bonuses, which are typically paid out by the end of March.

Here are the notable Pro Bowl bonuses and escalators that were netted last evening (all links to Corry’s Twitter):

Bonuses

  • Ravens S Eric Weddle$1MM; requires Baltimore in playoffs (link): For the second consecutive season, Weddle’s bonus will ride on the ability of the Ravens to earn a postseason berth. Baltimore is one of several teams in the mix for the AFC’s No. 6 seed, but FiveThirtyEight gives the club only a 41% chance of actually making the playoffs. Weddle, who will be entering his age-34 campaign in 2019, could potentially retire or be released before next season starts.
  • Chargers C Mike Pouncey, $500K (link): Pouncey somewhat surprisingly earned a Pro Bowl nod alongside his brother, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey. Mike Pouncey hasn’t been a terrible player by any means, but Raiders center Rodney Hudson has undoubtedly been better. Signed to a two-year contract this offeason, Pouncey is due a $6MM base salary and a $1.5MM roster bonus in 2019.
  • Vikings WR Adam Thielen, $500K (link): Thielen, notably, signed arguably the most team-friendly contract in the NFL in March 2017, a three-year deal that’s worth less than $20MM. By picking up a half-million dollar Pro Bowl bonus, Thielen will collect a bit more cash, but he’s still vastly underpaid. Second in the league in receptions, Thielen will count just $11.5MM total on the Vikings’ salary cap over the next two years.
  • Eagles TE Zach Ertz, $100K (link): Ertz will also see his base salaries increase by $250K in each of the 2019, 2020, and 2021 campaigns. He’s already surpassed career-highs in both receptions and yardage, and could top his career-high of eight touchdowns with a strong showing down the stretch.

Escalators

  • Chiefs T Eric Fisher, $500K base salary increase in 2019 (link): While Fisher hasn’t necessarily lived up to his status as a former No. 1 overall pick, he has played nearly every offensive snap for the Chiefs over the past six years while offering respectable play. He’s signed through 2021 as part of a four-year, $48MM extension he inked in 2016. Kansas City’s best tackle — Mitchell Schwartz, who mans the right side — has somehow been named second-team All-Pro for three consecutive years without ever being given a Pro Bowl nod.
  • Lions CB Darius Slay, $550K base salary increase in 2019 (link): Slay needed to reach two of three thresholds in order to earn his escalator. While he hasn’t yet met a five interception requirement, he was named to the Pro Bowl and has played on at least 80% of the Lions’ defensive snaps.
  • Packers WR Davante Adams, $250K base salary increase in 2019 (link): While he’s not quite at Thielen-level in terms of selling himself short, Adams arguably signed his extension with the Packers well before he needed to. Adams took a four-year, $58MM deal in December 2017, just months before he was scheduled to hit the open market. He’s vaunted to true No. 1 wideout status this year, but he’s just the NFL’s ninth-highest-paid wideout in terms of annual average.
  • Eagles G Brandon Brooks, $250K base salary increase in 2019-2020 (link): Brooks, 29, is quietly one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL, and Pro Football Focus currently grades him as the No. 5 guard in the league. He’s signed through the 2020 season, although his contract does contain two void years in 2021-22 that are in place only for salary cap purposes.