Even though the Bears are expected to stay out of the deep end of free agency, safety and free-agent-to-be Eric Weddle could represent a happy medium for a team that wants to maintain excellence at the position without allocating too much salary cap space in the process.
Fortunatly, Weddle is an established veteran presence who doesn’t figure to command a deal with a ton of guaranteed money or even one with plenty of years on the back end – a perfect balance for the Bears. Indeed, given the Bears’ cap situation, Weddle is a relatively attractive, yet sensible short-term option – especially if the team aims to free up cash for free agent cornerback Bryce Callahan and position itself to make a long-term extension offer for All-Pro safety Eddie Jackson a year from now.
So what’s it going to take? Well, Weddle was set to make $6.5 million in base salary next season, before the Ravens cut him on Tuesday. It’s hard to say what he’ll command on the open market, but you’d be wise to keep that number in mind. Speaking of the open market … even though Weddle is already 34 years old, you can expect one of the game’s best players at the position (his 80.7 grade at PFF put him at No. 10 among safeties last season) to have his fair share of suitors. Perhaps that’ll eventually include the Bears.
Then again, if Weddles doesn’t work out, this year’s free agency class is loaded with safeties. Take a look for yourself:
Free agent safeties: Landon Collins, Earl Thomas, Eric Weddle, Adrian Amos, Tyrann Mathieu, Tre Boston, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Clayton Geathers, Glover Quin
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) March 6, 2019
Safeties are the last line of defense on the football field, but the wave of players heading into free agency are set up to be among the first to get paid early in free agency. But what makes Weddle stand out from the likes of Landon Collins, Earl Thomas, Tyrann Mathieu, Ha Ha Clinton Dix, and others is that players who are cut and sent into free agency don’t count against the NFL’s compensatory draft pick formula.
Here’s a plausible scenario: the Bears could sign Weddle, allow Adrian Amos to walk away in free agency, and reap the benefits of his departure by landing a compensatory draft pick in 2020. And since GM Ryan Pace has been successful in nabbing late-round diamond-in-the-rough types, you’d think he would appreciate more bites at the apple if given the opportunity.
And of course, Amos’ cost is important to consider. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports is the latest to report that Amos is set to cash in with a big pay day this offseason. La Canfora hears Amos is in a position to be paid like a top-tier safety in the range of $9-10 million per year. That’s not necessarily new information to Bears fans who have been monitoring Amos’ market since the team’s season ended, but it can certainly continue to play a role in the Bears offseason plans. Amos’ stock has been on the rise and his projected price tag has climbed accordingly – and that could force the Bears to begin creating backup/alternative plans like Weddle.
Let’s see where this goes.
Bonus: On his way out of Baltimore, Weddle shared his goodbyes via social media:
What a great 3 yrs we had in BMORE!!! 3 Pro Bowls, #1 DEF, 2018 AFC north Champs. Ravens took a chance on me and will forever be grateful. Our family will miss Maryland. Excited to see where I end up next season!!!!
— Eric Weddle (@weddlesbeard) March 6, 2019
I, too, am excited to see where Weddle ends up in 2019 – so long as it isn’t with one of the Bears’ NFC North rivals.