The Baltimore Ravens will once again play the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night in a well anticipated AFC North primetime matchup and the visiting team’s defense will once again feature veteran safety Eric Weddle, who is now in his third season with Baltimore after signing a four year, $26 million contract with them in March of 2016. Weddle, however, could have just as easily become a member of the Steelers in 2016 had Pittsburgh pursued him during free agency that year as the veteran safety revealed on Tuesday during an interview on ‘The Pat McAfee Show.’
“I thought I was a perfect fit for Pittsburgh,” Weddle said Wednesday when asked to recap how his 2016 free agency experience went. “They just were hanging around and not wanting to pull the trigger there. They had some other options and guys that they needed to get done before me and they just never wanted to come get it. And I’m really good friends with Ben [Roethlisberger], so obviously that was a destination that I wanted to make happen, but it just never happened.”
If you remember back to the 2016 offseason, the Steelers had veteran safety Mike Mitchell still under contract at that time and he was entering the third year of the five-year contract he had signed as an unrestricted free agent in 2014. The Steelers also ultimately selected safety Sean Davis in the second-round of the 2016 NFL Draft that year. The other safeties on the Steelers 2016 Week 1 active roster were Robert Golden, Shamarko Thomas and Jordan Dangerfield.
In the summer of 2016, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger even admitted during an interview that he actively tried to get Weddle to sign with the black and gold earlier that offseason instead of with their AFC North rivals, the Ravens.
“I was trying to get him here,” Roethlisberger said when asked in June of 2016 if he tried to recruit Weddle. “That would have been good for us. Now, he’s the enemy.”
Weddle admitted during his Wednesday interview that he’s since had several Steelers fans come after him for signing with the Ravens instead of Pittsburgh and that he has to set them straight whenever that happens.
“It’s funny to hear Pittsburgh fans, they always get on me; ‘You should have came here, you picked the wrong team.’ And I say, ‘Look man, like, I didn’t have a choice, they didn’t really want me.’ So, you guys forget, I could say I want to go to a certain team, but if they don’t want you or they don’t offer you a contract, it doesn’t happen and you can’t just wait around,” Weddle said.
Weddle enters the Week 4 Sunday night game against the Steelers having already registered 12 total tackles, 2 quarterback hits and a pass defensed on the season. Since signing with the Ravens he’s registered 10 interceptions and 20 total defensed passes. One of those interceptions came against the Steelers just last season when he intercepted Roethlisberger in the Week 4 meeting between the two teams via a freaky play that included wide receiver Antonio Brown not first fully securing the football.
Steelers safeties, by the way, registered 7 total interceptions the last two seasons and Mitchell only was responsible for one those.