LA Rams safety Eric Weddle‘s recovery is on track, as is a diminished role in 2020
The LA Rams signed veteran free agent safety Eric Weddle to a two-year contract worth $10.5 million in 2019. But a year after the fact, the same LA Rams are looking for ways to shave some expensive contracts to free up salary cap space for the 2020 free agency market. The team friendly contract used to sign Weddle up may be the same tool used to part ways with him.
Weddle played in all 16 regular season games, but had several injuries through the season. He left the game against the Carolina Panthers with a head laceration. Due to the NFL concussion protocol, he did not return to that game. He also appeared on the injury report list for week 17 with a groin injury, but he was able to shake that off in time to face the Cardinals.
But he was not able to shake off a meniscus injury to his knee. That required surgery which he promptly addressed this offseason.
Of course, with any surgery, there is always a small risk of complications or partial healing. That was not the case in this instance. Nine days after surgery, his stitches were removed and there are no signs of any complications.
Weddle’s career comeback, but too little too late
Weddle enjoyed a renaissance of sorts with the Rams. He made the most tackles with the Rams since his 2014 season with the San Diego Chargers. Still, his 108 tackles, 4 passes defended, and 1 stuffed run were fewer than either John Johnson III made in 2018, or rookie Taylor Rapp had with one fewer game in 2019. And there’s the rub.
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If the Rams part ways with Weddle this season, the team saves approximately $4.25 million in salary cap dollars this season. Better yet, if the Rams can find a trading partner for Weddle, they may be able to add a mid to late round draft pick as well.
The team is likely already looking at a significantly reduced role for Weddle in 2020. Both safeties John Johnson III and Taylor Rapp have earned starting roles with the team this season. That likely forces the veteran Weddle to specialty packages and a backup role in the upcoming season. While that could extend his career for another season or two, it’s likely not the role he wants right now.
Weddle still has enough in him to start at safety for an NFL team looking to groom and develop young talent at the back end of the defense. But even at full health, Weddle has lost a step, and his tackling seems to miss in crucial plays.
Enough to intrigue some teams needing a starter at safety, not enough left to command significant draft picks in a trade. His future is one of several questions hanging over the future of the team this off-season.