Ever since Week 5 of the 2015 regular season, several fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers have speculated that the team should seriously consider signing San Diego Chargers veteran safety Eric Weddle to a free agent contract during the offseason. While I’m not sure that will ultimately happen due to the history of the organization as it relates to them signing outside defensive free agents on the wrong side of 30, now is a perfect time to look at what it might take to sign Weddle.
First, it’s important to keep in mind that the next contract Weddle signs will likely be his last being as he is now 31 years of age. Second, it’s also worth pointing out that his base salary last season was $7.5 million and that he’ll likely be one of the top sought-after safeties during the free agency signing period. With all of that in mind, Weddle’s currently market value is likely right around $5 million a year, which is exactly what current Steelers safety Mike Mitchell is earning. Mitchell, however, is only 28 years of age.
So, would Weddle accept a yearly average of $4.5 million? If so, below is look at what a three-year contract for him might look like. As you can see, he would receive $5.5 million at signing and that includes a $3 million signing bonus and a first-year base salary of $2.5 million. Remember, he earned $7.5 million in 2015 so such a contract from the Steelers would leave him $2 million short of what he made last season. That’s not bad considering his age.
Based on my example, Weddle’s cap charge in 2016 would be a mere $3.5 million. Additionally, if he needed to be cut after just one season in Pittsburgh, there would only be $2 million in dead money involved.
Last season, Weddle missed 3 games due to a groin injury and it’s unknown as to whether or not he will have offseason surgery to repair it. However, prior to the 2015 season, he played every game in the previous five seasons. During his press conference prior to the Steelers game against the Chargers earlier this season, head coach Mike Tomlin showered Weddle with praise.
“I love Eric Weddle, always have,” Tomlin said. “He’s so versatile. He’s a sub-package linebacker. He plays strong safety. He plays free safety. He plays half-field, middle of the field. They blitz him. He’s a do-everything type of a player, and a good one.”
Once the free agency signing period gets underway, we’ll see just how much Tomlin really loves Weddle and if that love is greater than his love for soon-to-be unrestricted free agent safety Will Allen, who will get no attention from other teams in the coming months. Can the Steelers afford Weddle? Probably, but so too will several other teams.