New Ravens safety Eric Weddle is scheduled to arrive Wednesday in Baltimore for his physical, contract signing, and press conference. Here are five questions to ask regarding the Ravens’ important acquisition:
1. Can Weddle stop the Ravens’ revolving door at safety?
Michael Huff. James Ihedigbo. Darian Stewart. Matt Elam. Kendrick Lewis. Will Hill. All of them have been given opportunities to start at safety since the 2012 season, when the Ravens won a Super Bowl with Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard as the starters. Weddle will be expected to re-establish stability in the secondary - a three-time Pro Bowler who is still only 31 years old. Both as a playmaker and a leader, Weddle has the experience to lineup teammates properly, diagnose plays, and reduce the mental mistakes that have hurt the Ravens’ secondary in recent years. And having missed just three games over the past five years, Weddle’s track record suggests durability won’t be an issue.
2. Will Weddle’s presence dramatically increase the Ravens’ takeaways?
The Ravens had an NFL-low six interceptions last season, a major reason they finished 5-11. Weddle has 19 career interceptions and the instincts of a centerfielder. The Ravens will count on his presence to produce more takeaways and more scoring opportunities.
3. Who will be paired with Weddle at safety?
After inking a four-year, $26 million deal, pencil in Weddle as one starter. But who will start beside him? It could be Lardarius Webb, who is making the switch from cornerback to safety. It could be Hill, a ferocious hitter who does not excel in pass coverage. Or someone else could emerge. It’s a crowded field at safety for the Ravens, and the competition will be intense.
4. Who’s on the way out?
Clearly, the Ravens have too many safeties. Lewis, Elam, Terrence Brooks, Webb, and Hill won’t all be on the Ravens’ roster by Week 1.
5. What’s next in free agency for the Ravens?
The Ravens have been uncharacteristically aggressive early in free agency, grabbing Weddle and tight end Benjamin Watson. Another move, like adding a veteran wide receiver, is still a possibility.
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