Yet another move has been made by Eric DeCosta as free agency looms. This time, the team released veteran safety Eric Weddle. With such big news, Baltimore Beatdown shared their opinions.
Kyle P. Barber
I’m not too surprised by the move. Weddle didn’t perform as he did his previous two seasons with the Ravens. In 2018, Weddle didn’t force a takeaway and was a liability at times. Yes, he did make some plays and I’m not saying he was bad, but in the end, he’s not worth the big money he was due this season ($9.25 million). Instead, the franchise can save $7.5 million and go a couple of different routes. Either way, Eric DeCosta isn’t taking things lightly with the promotion. He’s cutting, trading and extending players the way he sees fit and it’s looking good thus far.
Frank J. Platko
Once again, Eric DeCosta makes the correct move. Weddle has been a leader on the defense and impact player ever since arriving in Baltimore. He made the pro bowl the past three seasons, but his declining athleticism became far more of an issue over the past two seasons. Weddle can no longer cover opposing receivers the way he used to and he became far slower in breaking to the ball. His tackling had also become pretty spotty. By releasing Weddle now, the Ravens create even more cap space and can search for potential replacements in free agency and the draft. Personally, I think DeShon Elliott is ready for an increased role.
On a personal level for many of the players this is going to be a tough one to stomach; Weddle was a consummate team guy and a great resource on the field, even as he began to slow down in his last season. On paper, though it had to happen. A 34 year old player on the clear downside of his career couldn’t remain on the books for over 9 million dollars, especially considering the team is beginning what looks to be a youth-centered rebuild. Weddle deserves credit for stabilizing what had long been a problem position for the Ravens, but this isn’t the stunning move some in the national media landscape seem to see it as.
Eric Weddle helped to turn Baltimore’s secondary into one of the best units in the NFL in his three-year stint with the Ravens. His football intellect and leadership will be sorely missed, but there’s no denying that age was beginning to affect the Pro Bowl safety.
This could very well be a move to save some cap space and bring the veteran back on a cheaper contract, or DeCosta could be looking ahead to a loaded safety market in free agency that includes Tyrann Mathieu and Earl Thomas. The draft is another option to fill the void at free safety, with Alabama’s Deionte Thompson and Delaware’s Nasir Adderly being two of the top candidates.
Weddle’s time in Baltimore was a resounding success, with 2016 being one of the finest seasons ever for a Ravens safety. The on-the-field general will be missed, but with a new general manager comes a new era.
Weddle gave the Ravens a couple good years and brought much needed communication to the backend. But his range slipped as he aged and his tackling became suspect last season. Better to release a year too early than a year too late.
On a macro level, it is encouraging to see Eric DeCosta prioritize youth, speed and salary cap management this offseason. The Ravens tried quick fixes and used stopgaps too often in recent seasons. A 2-year re-tooling plan may be the optimal route towards assembling a championship worthy roster.
Kyle J. Andrews
I’m not completely surprised, due to the direction that general manager Eric DeCosta wanted to take the team. Baltimore has talked about getting younger and more athletic for years. Though Weddle started off with 10 interceptions in two seasons, his ability in coverage seemed to decline in his third season with the team. He had zero interceptions and being paired with a run-stuffing strong safety in Tony Jefferson just wasn’t feasible anymore. It’s not a knock on Weddle’s knowledge of the game — he had everyone in the right place at the right time, but as age comes, the athleticism wanes. $7.5 million in extra cap space should do Baltimore some justice in patching up their offensive line and assisting a stripped-down receiving corps.