Eric Weddle has parted ways with the massive beard that was part of his persona the past few seasons. The two-time first-team All-Pro free safety is also almost certainly parting ways with the San Diego Chargers after an acrimonious 2015 season.
The New York Giants, as anyone who watched them try to play defense in 2015 knows, could use a quality veteran free safety to pair with Landon Collins and add leadership, stability and play-making ability to the back end of the defense. Could Weddle and the Giants be a free-agent match?
Weddle was one of the league's best free safeties from 2010-2014, being named first-team All-Pro in 2011 and 2014. He is, also, however, the type of player Giants general manager Jerry Reese has typically shied away from in free agency, and even turned away when it was one of the Giants own players.
Weddle turned 31 in January and is coming off the worst season of his career since becoming a starter for San Diego in 2008. Think about Justin Tuck in 2014. At age 30, the Giants barely moved a muscle while Tuck signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Oakland Raiders. Last offseason, the Giants apparently never even made an offer when Antrel Rolle, at age 32, took a three-year, $11.25 million deal from the Chicago Bears.
Spotrac's Calculated Market Value for Weddle, factoring in age, contracts of comparable players, and statistical comparisons, is two years, $13.8 million. That is $6.9 million annually, significantly more than the Giants were willing to pony up for either of their last two defensive captains at a similar age. Would the Giants do that for Weddle?
That might depend on what the Giants believe to be the reason for the decline in Weddle's play last season. Was some of that due to the ill will between Weddle and the Chargers? Was it because Father Time is beginning to catch up with Weddle, as it catches up with everyone eventually? Was it a combination of both? Here is a statistical look at Weddle's career, with the decline in production last season easy to see.
John Gennaro of SB Nation Chargers blog, Bolts From The Blue, believes that Weddle's play in 2015 was entirely about his desire to leave San Diego.
"I think he's probably got three years left as one of the top 2-3 safeties in the league and is smart enough to still be well above average for a couple of years after that if he wants. The issues in 2015 were almost entirely due to effort as he was doing his best to protect himself from injury for the upcoming free agency period. As a Chargers fan, it hurt to watch, but it should not reflect any sort of diminished skills," Gennaro wrote via e-mail.
Weddle might not be the Giants' first choice as they look to improve the play at their safety position, but even if he isn't quite the player he was in his prime he would be an upgrade over Craig Dahl and Brandon Meriweather. A player as accomplished as Weddle might also be able to help the development of Collins and the other young Giants' safeties.
Is he a player you would like to see the Giants pursue next month?