After failing to fill the void of future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed over the last three seasons, the Ravens finally decided to spend for a three-time Pro Bowl selection.
Baltimore agreed to a four-year deal with longtime San Diego Chargers free safety Eric Weddle and will pay the 31-year-old a total of $9 million in 2016, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The deal is worth up to $29 million.
He will arrive in Baltimore on Wednesday to take his physical and sign his contract.
— Eric Weddle (@weddlesbeard) March 14, 2016
Weddle had spent his first nine NFL seasons with the Chargers after being selected in the second round of the 2007 draft out of Utah. He has 19 career interceptions and will ideally bring strong pass coverage to the back end of the secondary, a place where the Ravens have struggled since Reed’s departure after the 2012 season.
Though he missed three games with a groin issue in his final season with San Diego, Weddle has missed only seven contests in his nine-year career and has been a full-time starter since 2008. In 137 career games, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound safety has collected 850 tackles, 6 1/2 sacks, 71 pass breakups, five forced fumbles, and three defensive touchdowns.
In 2015, Weddle did not record an interception for the first time in his career, but he had 78 tackles, 1/2 sack, and six pass breakups. Pro Football Focus graded his pass coverage second in the NFL among qualified safeties in 2015.
Weddle reportedly had also been considering Dallas, Oakland, and Pittsburgh as a potential destination.
Since parting ways with Reed, the Ravens have pumped substantial resources into the safety position with disappointing results. Baltimore drafted Matt Elam in the first round of the 2013 draft and Terrence Brooks in the third round of the 2014 draft, but neither has established himself as a long-term solution. Veteran free agents also failed to nail down the job as Michael Huff, Darian Stewart, and Kendrick Lewis were all signed in recent years.
As of Monday afternoon, it remained unclear what the Ravens would do with their surplus of safeties that also includes starting strong safety Will Hill and converted cornerback Lardarius Webb. General manager Ozzie Newsome has said repeatedly this offseason that the organization views Webb as a starting safety despite a very high $9.5 million salary cap figure for the 2016 season.