The Chargers continued their momentum from yesterday by signing Eric Weddle to a 5 year/40 million dollar contract. Before the ink was dry the enthusiasm of resigning Weddle was offset by complaints that the Chargers gave him too much money. At this moment, Weddle is now the highest paid safety in the league. Now an anti-Weddle contingent has formed and The Greg One is here to provide the voice of reason. There are a number of reasons we need to resume celebrating the signing of Weddle and here they are.
1. Many teams were chasing Weddle because they know how good he is. On paper, Weddle is not that imposing, he stands 5’11, 200 pounds. The immeasurables are where Weddle has deserved all that attention. Weddle is always around the ball and plays with heart and fearlessness. Since Weddle became a starter in 2008 he has a minimum of 82 tackles a season. In 2007 he had 127, 82 in 2008 and 96 last season. Eric Weddle gets his man. His interception stats are not high but safeties don’t rack up a lot of picks. Weddle only had one interception in 2010 but he returned it for a touchdown. Does anyone remember who that pick came against? It came against Peyton Manning in the win against Indy last season. Weddle’s first career pick came in 2008 in week 3 against the Jets, led by Brett Favre. The man plays big in big games against great quarterbacks but he’s so consistent he gets overlooked.
Weddle plays big in the playoffs. Have we forgotten the one-handed goal line interception of Peyton Manning in the 2007 playoffs? Did we forget the 11 tackles and a sack in the divisional playoffs against Pittsburgh in 2008? In the Tennessee game that clinched the second seed in the playoffs in 2009, Weddle had a third quarter interception and forced a punt on the following series after getting the league’s fastest man, Chris Johnson, on back-to-back tackles for loss. We need this man in the big game. Many eyes from across the NFL were watching and wanting that big play ability on their team. Eric Weddle solves the best quarterbacks in the league, not the Brady Quinns of the world but the elite, super bowl ring wearing, offense shreddding QB’s like Manning, Roethlisberger and Brady. San Diego needs his performance in their Super Bowl run this season. Kudos need to be given to Chargers brass for keeping him in San Diego.
2. This is the way the league is going to go. Teams have to spend money now. The new CBA states every team has to spend 99% of their salary cap. With all the money coming in, player salaries are going to go up. It has happened every year. Every position across the board aside from running back has had huge salary increases. Weddle has the highest yearly salary of any safety…for now. Is Weddle a game changer like Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu? No, at least not yet. Keep in mind Weddle is only in his fifth season, he is going to get even better. At 26 years old his best days are in front of him and i’m sure that’s what Jacksonville, Minnesota and all the others saw as well. Ed Reed is 32, Polamalu is 30. Both are speeding towards the end of their careers. Eric Weddle is 26 and there’s no need to be offended that he’s paid better than those two premier safeties because he is becoming a premier safety himself. Weddle has been overlooked because he has been in San Diego. If he played in Pittsburgh, New York, Dallas or Green Bay he would be getting national acclaim and commercials. Don’t forget how west coast players get the matador treatment from the mass media.
3. Weddle is going to form an awesome 1-2 punch next to Bob Sanders. Sanders made a name for himself as a big hitter and game changer in Indianapolis before his injury problems set in. Weddle has had to live with being the anchor, the last man to beat in the secondary for a long time without an imposing presence at strong safety. The Chargers brass obviously had this in mind when they brought in Sanders before the lockout began. With a healthy Sanders and Weddle manning the middle of the field, big hits and big plays are coming. This is now the best safety tandem in the league. You can chart tackles, interceptions and passes defensed. What you can’t chart are passing plays that don’t happen because the quarterback has to improvise when he sees he can’t throw because his man is covered like a Tupperware container. If you let Weddle walk, who are you going to bring in that’s better? Weddle is a top-5 safety in this league and almost no one knows his name.
In the end, the Chargers have paid Weddle for his performance, his upside and he has deserved every penny. Weddle comes to work with his lunchpail and gets down to business. No glitz, no glamour, just a blue-collar hard worker who gives you his all when he’s on the field. The Chargers are taking care of their own as evidenced by resigning Jeromey Clary yesterday and with resigning Weddle today. That means chemistry, that means keeping solid leaders in the locker room for the draftees that will one day replace them. Obviously some of us Charger fans don’t realize the gem we’re sitting on with Weddle but possibly as soon as this season even they will see why he’s worth all that cash. If you need a reminder, check out the video package above.