Since 2007 when Eric Weddle was drafted by the San Diego Chargers out of Utah, he’s played two games per year against the Raiders.
Weddle, a two-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl safety, is completely familiar with the Chargers’ Northern California rival.
So now that Weddle, 31, is headed toward free agency, it seems plausible that he’d be interested in trading his lightning bolt for some silver and black. Certainly, staying in the AFC West with a team in need of safety help with the retirement of Charles Woodson makes for a seemingly nice fit.
In fact, in speaking with the San Diego Union-Tribune last week, Weddle listed his criteria for selecting a new team, and the Raiders seem to fill every requirement.
“In the next three or four years, are they going to be competitive? Are they going to be division winners? Are we going to have a chance at the Super Bowl?” he said.
He added that other factors in his decision will include what division the team is a part of, where he’d fit in and how he can help.
“I think I can play any scheme, so that’s not really an issue,” he told the Union-Tribune’s Tom Krasovic. Krasovic listed the Panthers, Raiders and Steelers as likely landing spots, but noted the Raiders have the most salary cap space available.
But how good is Weddle? And does he make sense?
Weddle certainly knows the division and has experience. But at 31 he’s climbing the age ladder. In addition he’s had just three interceptions over the past three seasons. He’s never been a safety known for creating turnovers. He has 19 interceptions in nine seasons and just six fumble recoveries.
Pro Football Focus, the analytic website, has in the past ranked Weddle among the NFL’s top safeties, but in 2015 it ranked Weddle as the NFL’s 32nd best safety. Still, NFL.com analyst Gregg Rosenthal put Weddle No. 12 on his list of top 20 potential free agents.
Marc Sessler of NFL.com wrote recently that Weddle is entering the final stage of his career but can still help teams “in need of a reliable backstop.”
“With two All-Pro nods during his productive career, Weddle’s playing days will carry on for a team that still appreciates what he can bring,” wrote Sessler.
But, the Raiders this week will also be studying safeties at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis who will be younger, less expensive and come with more long-term potential than a 31-year-old with nine seasons of heavy contact on his body.
Weddle, however, could be a one- or two-season solution, a veteran who could step right in and make an impact, the way Woodson did when he came back from Green Bay. He’s certainly an intriguing option with both upside and downside.