Would adding All-Pro veteran safety Eric Weddle in free agency next month help the Dallas Cowboys upgrade their secondary in 2016?
The Dallas Cowboys need defensive secondary help and they need playmakers. Last season, Dallas ranked dead last in creating turnovers with 11 total takeaways and ended their year with a disastrous 4-12 record. This offseason, the Cowboys are looking to retool and build on their previous success which they obtained the year before, posting an opposite 12-4 record.
In order to do so, the Cowboys are going to have to address some needs within their defensive secondary. Starting cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr are both possible casualties this offseason. Claiborne is a free agent Dallas will likely not re-sign. While the underperforming Carr is scheduled to a whopping $19.1 million in the next two years and could be released to create more salary cap room.
Last year’s first round pick, Byron Jones, is expected to be played at free safety this season, after being forced to play corner during his rookie year. But the possible exodus of both Carr and Claiborne may force the Cowboys to rethink that move. Instead, cementing Jones at the starting cornerback position another year, this time alongside veteran Orlando Scandrick.
This leaves the Cowboys with a serious void at free safety. Although they do have three-year veteran J.J. Wilcox currently at the position, the former third round selection out of Georgia Southern took a major step back in his development last season. Pro Football Focus actually ranked Wilcox as one of the worst overall safeties in the NFL last year. That’s part of the reason the Cowboys wanted to get Jones over at free safety next season. Unfortunately, with the current roster situation, the talented young defensive back is simply more valuable at corner.
All that being said, the Cowboys could certainly have a need at free safety. And there happens to be an All-Pro player at that position who will hit the open market next month. His name is Eric Weddle. But would the two-time first team All-Pro consider joining America’s Team? The nine-year veteran recently broke down the criteria he’s using to determine his next team.
"“Who wants me, No. 1,” Weddle told the San Diego Union Tribune earlier this month. “In the next three or four years, are they going to be competitive, are they going to be division winners, are we going to have a chance at the Super Bowl? The division, where they see me fitting, how can I help, will I be what they want, is it a good fit? I think I can play any scheme, so that’s not really an issue.”"
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Based on that information, the Cowboys seem like a perfect fit for Weddle. First, we’ve established Dallas could have a need at his position. Secondly, the Cowboys are considered Super Bowl contenders as long as there is a healthy Tony Romo under center. Finally, the NFC East is the weakest division in the league right now. So the Cowboys should be favorites to win it for the foreseeable future.
So, Dallas has meet Weddle’s criteria. But does the 31-year old safety meet the Cowboys? Well, the former second round selection out of Utah has spent his entire nine-year career as a member of the San Diego Chargers. A team the Cowboys know very well as they often play the Chargers in the preseason as their training camp has been held in nearby Oxnard, California for the past four years.
As for the player himself, Weddle is a three-time Pro Bowler (2011, 2013, 2014) and a five-time All-Pro (2010-2014). He’s also the Chargers defensive leader, an outstanding locker room guy and a quality special teams player. In 2011, Weddle led the NFL in interceptions with seven (tied with two others). Last season, PFF ranked him as the seventh best cover safety in the NFL. Weddle can simply do it all. In the last three years, he’s posted 307 total tackles, 23 passes defended, and three interceptions.
The main sticking point with Weddle making the move to Dallas will likely be money. The talented free safety just finished out a five-year, $40-million contract with the Chargers. If he is looking for a similar deal, he will likely not find it with the Cowboys. But if Weddle is more concerned about team fit and winning a ring over money, then Dallas could be the perfect landing spot.
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