Eric Weddle, Will Hill form one of league’s top safety tandems

With Eric Weddle headed to Baltimore, Senior Analyst Sam Monson examines the former Chargers' potential role.

| 1 year ago
(Photo by Jerome Davis/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jerome Davis/Getty Images)

Eric Weddle, Will Hill form one of league’s top safety tandems

The deal: According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, former San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle has signed a four-year, $26 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens.

Grade: B

What it means for the Ravens: By signing free agent Eric Weddle, Baltimore has instantly created one of the league’s best safety pairings, teaming the former Charger up with Will Hill to create a versatile and talented duo.

Weddle has led the PFF rankings for safeties in two of the past four seasons, been in the top five in five of the past six seasons, and top 10 in six of the past seven. 2015 was his worst year since 2008, and the first time since that season that he has earned a negative grade against the run.

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From 2009 to 2014, he earned a positive grade in every facet PFF measures during every single season of play for the Chargers, often with little help on that defense, acting like a crossing guard for other members of the San Diego secondary in addition to doing his own job.

At 31 years old, Weddle may be in the latter years of his career, but the bottom line is that he has been one of the league’s best safeties over an extended period of time, playing for a defense that has often been bad around him. He plays with the kind of clean feet to mitigate any affects of age on his game, and takes superior angles to the football and ball carrier when he decides to break on the play.

High-level safeties can come in a few different guises, between high-level box safeties, elite single-high free safeties, and all-around safeties that can do it all. Weddle is of the Harrison Smith-style of do-it-all safety, which allows you to do a lot of different things on defense and doesn’t lock your secondary into any one set of coverages.

Will Hill has had his problems in keeping himself on the straight and narrow, but he has been impressive for the Ravens and Giants over the past three seasons, and gives Baltimore the chance to get creative with their safeties when paired with Weddle. Each member of the new duo has the ability to play deep, in the box, or each take a half of the field and match responsibilities. This means that the Ravens can play pretty much every coverage in the book with equal proficiency, and potentially become harder for an offense to diagnose and prepare for.

NFL offenses are only getting better at picking apart coverages, and having versatile safeties is a huge bonus to any defense in a league that is running short on them. The Ravens just added a second one to their roster, and Eric Weddle just might hold the password to unlocking the full potential of this Baltimore defense.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN and NBCSports.

  • JudoPrince

    The Ravens are cap strapped so the question is who will get cut to afford the move. Will it be Webb?

    • JudoPrince

      Also surprised the Panthers didn’t go after Weddle. They have the cap room to afford him and would have been a better replacement over Roman Harper.

    • pats fan199910u938741984589

      Were they planning on converting webb to safety? I think i read that somewhere but i forget

      • Tim Edell

        Their plan was to move Webb to safety but one would think with this signing and the big contract of Webb, that he may end up being let go.

    • Garfii Kartyk

      They’re not, actually. Their deals with Flacco, J. Smith, and Carrington, as well as letting Canty walk and cutting D. Smith have freed up a ton of money. After Weddle they have around $8m in cap space still, with everybody expecting more cap savings when they cut Pitta post-June 1.

      • JudoPrince

        a “ton” of money? They haven’t had more than $10 million in cap space at any point this off season despite the cuts. Currently it’s at under $8 million. Not too much wiggle room considering you need to go into the season with a few million to spare.

        • Lord Father

          they dont need to cut anyone for this move, they will however likely cut a saftey on roster when getting down to the 53.

  • crosseyedlemon

    Only the Cowboys had a worse turnover ratio than the Ravens last season so this is a great acquisition for a team without a lot of options to spend in free agency. Baltimore will still need to score an A in the upcoming draft to reclaim their status in the AFC but this was a good start.

  • Dbdrillz

    Too bad we released Will Hill 😛

  • MachoMenos

    Ha ha!

  • fuster

    so that projected pairing didn’t last even until the ink dried on Weddle’s contract