When the LA Rams 2021 NFL season began, former defensive back Eric Weddle was already a full year removed from the NFL. Nowhere in his immediate plans did he intend to try out for any NFL rosters. He had made the decision to retire from the NFL after the 2019 season. For all intents and purposes, that should have been the end of it.
But as he describes in this video below, playing for the NFL for so long becomes part of who you are. And so, despite the fact that he did not have plans to return to the NFL, he continued to train to maintain his athleticism as though he had. The opportunity with the LA Rams was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Eric Weddle was offered the chance to rejoin the team specifically to compete, and play, in the NFL Playoffs for the team that he was once a part of.
And, in one last shot to play in Super Bowl LVI, Eric Weddle has the chance to earn a ring with the LA Rams. Who wouldn’t want that chance over a short four-game season?
The video was recorded as Weddle came on board. But goodness, how things have changed since that moment. After the Rams got a ‘feel’ of just how effective Eric Weddle can be on the football field, his role has grown considerably.
Against the Arizona Cardinals, he was a passing-down defensive back, splitting time with DB Terrell Burgess who was in for running downs. But against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? He was playing 85 percent of the defensive snaps. Against the San Francisco 49ers? He was up to 100 percent of the defensive plays. So far his Pro Football Focus grades warrant is increased role, grading him at a respectable 69.4 in the postseason so far.
When the news first broke about adding him, I was more than skeptical. But I was clearly too hasty and wrong in my initial reaction. The Rams defense has played at a much higher level in the playoffs so far, and Weddle has made the highlight reel more than once in the post-game wrap-ups.
The gamble has paid off handsomely for both the team and the player. Just one game, one win away, from becoming the NFL’s best. It seems as though Eric Weddle was wise to continue to train after retirement. And to my astonishment, the Rams were wise to give him a chance to prove he still can make plays in the NFL.