With San Diego's star safety Eric Weddle leaving the team disgruntled and uninterested in donning the Chargers' jersey again, there was no doubting that plenty of teams would be in hot pursuit of his services in free agency. In fact, about twelve teams gave Weddle a ring, but surprisingly, the Ravens came out on top.
So how did the cash-strapped and notoriously anti-free agency franchise grab one of the most-sought after free agents of the season?
It was nothing but a little charm and good old honesty.
In the race to grab the esteemed veteran, the Ravens' commitment to their players and winning beat out big money and flashier cities.
"I want to be appreciated, to be loved, to feel wanted," he says. "I want to know that they feel all the sacrifices I make are worth it."
- Eric Weddle
Baltimore became the first team to make Weddle an offer, and he was "ecstatic". But being the hot ticket that he was, Weddle had to sift through some offers first. Two days after the Ravens sent in their offer, Weddle let some teams know that they just didn't make the cut, this included the club that gave him the most lucrative contract. It looked as if Weddle was to be a Raven.
Until the Cowboys jumped in, that is. Weddle's favorite childhood team had flirted with the idea of offering Weddle a contract, but hadn't shown any real interest until then. Their offer practically matched the Ravens.
Torn between the two, Weddle submitted counteroffers to both teams. A mere half hour later, Baltimore upped their deal. The Cowboys stalled, and the rest was history. A day later, Weddle was a Baltimore Raven.
So how exactly did Baltimore land such a hot ticket so quickly?
It took a little star power, but mostly pure determination. As Assistant GM Eric DeCosta put it to Weddle's agent, "we really want him."
Former Raven and Charger Jarret Johnson was called in to cajole Weddle, as well as linebacker Elvis Dumervil. Even the rehabbing Steve Smith offered to show Weddle around Baltimore. The Ravens also must've answered some of Weddle's specific questions very well. Weddle and his agent sent a list of about 30 questions for prospective teams to answer, the questions ranged from the proximity of LDS churches near the team's facility to "Are there knuckleheads on the team who Eric will be expected to help?"
But in the end, it was the Ravens' winning culture and loyalty that drew Weddle and so many others before him to the Ravens. Coming from a team with only one playoff appearance in six years, it's quite easy to see why Weddle chose the team that has played some extra games in six of the past eight seasons.
The Ravens won over Weddle by winning, and he too hopes that he can win with them.