By: James Johnson
With the NFL lockout still going on teams can only make plans for the moment that it is over, and one of the first thing teams have been making plans the moment that the lockout ends is free agency. Most teams will be looking to patch up the holes on there roster in which they didn’t address in the draft and as we know the Jaguars have plenty (specifically on defense). As we all know one of the most glaring holes is at the Safety position. GM Gene Smith seems to think so as well and said that the Jaguars plan to add a veteran at the position through free agency. Sources such as Profootballfocus.com, Profootballtalk.com and a few others seem to think the veteran that Smith will target is Eric Weddle of the Chargers. Now most fans seem to think that Weddle would be an instant upgrade in the secondary and I agree, but I also think Weddle has a few red flags that concern me.
The first red flag that concerns me is the type of contract he will command being that he’s only 26 years old. Now I’m not the type of person who thinks the Jaguars should always take the cheap conservative route when it comes to free agency, but I think they should take a few things into consideration before the even think about signing Weddle. He will likely want a contract worth the same figures that Antrelle Rolle got last year which was a 37 million dollar contract with 15 million guaranteed. That would make him one of the highest paid safeties under only Troy Polamalu and Bob Sanders (not his recent contract). Now some could make an argument that Weddle is one of the top safeties in the league, but I don’t thinks he’s on the same level as Polamalu(in other words he shouldn’t get the same pay).I’d also put Weddle under Ed Reed, Nick Collins, Antrelle Rolle, Adrian Wilson,and Bob Sanders(a healthy Sanders that is). After that Weddle would be next imo but with a pretty decent drop off between himself and the guys I just named.
Another red flag on Weddle is his big play ability which is the main thing that seperates him from Collins,Reed,and Polamalu. Now I’m not trying to compare him to them I’m just saying with the contract he’s going to want he should have the same caliber play making ability as them. He doesn’t cause alot of fumbles (of course due to his size), neither does he come up with alot of interceptions. I understand you can’t base a safeties play on interceptions ,but for 7.4 million dollars a year 2 interceptions per year isn’t going to cut it. By the way that’s the maximum amount of int’s Weddle has came up with in his three years as a starter. He came up with 1 his first season as a starter an 2 int’s in 2009,and 2 more in 2010. Word is that the reason behind his lack of int’s is because he has stone hands. I also have concerns about him playing in a 2 deep safety scheme which we us alot. This however is a minor concern.
Now for positives. He played on a secondary that gave our rival Peyton Manning alot of trouble in the past. So having a veteran like him who knows Manning well could really help. Not to mention he played for the best secondary in the league in terms of pass coverage last year. He’s a sound tackler (not to be confused for a hard tackler) with great technique and is always in good position.
As for my opinion I’m on the fence about this one. One thing you can’t argue about in Weddle’s case is that he won’t be an upgrade over Carey. With Weddle in the starting lineup we’d have a young starter with veteran and playoff experience. You will also get a good tackler and a guy who will always be in the right position (unlike Carey) as I’ve already said. What you won’t get is a ball hawk like Ed Reed who usually will get you 5 to 8 picks a year and someone that make game changing plays all the time, which is what I think people will expect of a guy with the type of contract Weddle’s going to get. Initially it’s up to the Jaguars what they want to do and I’d be glad to have Weddle here ,but I’d understand why they would pass on him if they did. Look for the Jaguars to consider Dashon Goldson and Micheal Huff as well.