Coming into the offseason, we were expecting the Rams to part ways with safety Lamarcus Joyner. This meant that the Rams were either going to draft or sign a safety. When news broke that the Rams are adding Weddle to the roster, it made sense. Now that free agency is officially underway, it needs to be said that Les Snead made a brilliant move.
Weddle is good
This is kind of a given but it’s true. It shocked the league that the Baltimore Ravens cut Weddle. It’s probably to free up some cap space, which benefits the Rams. The Rams are solid in the starting secondary and adding Weddle completes it.
Realistically speaking, Weddle is a 2-year rental. He’s looking to finish his career with a Super Bowl contending team, and the Rams fit that description. This may not be a long-term agreement, but this provides the Rams a little more time to scout for younger safeties. It probably won’t be that difficult considering Snead seems to have a knack for discovering safety talent.
Rams can be more creative in the 2019 NFL Draft
This year’s safety class isn’t that strong, especially at free safety. There are only a few that may be able to come in and start immediately. This isn’t to say that the Rams shouldn’t draft a safety at all, but they don’t have to use their early picks to select one. Instead, they can now focus on other positions like edge rushers and offensive linemen. Maybe Snead can draft a safety in the lower rounds for a “low risk, high reward” type of player. Weddle’s contract is for two years so Snead doesn’t necessarily have to pursue a safety if he doesn’t like what he sees in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Lamarcus Joyner didn’t gel with new secondary
It’s difficult to say if Weddle is an upgrade from Joyner. Weddle isn’t in the prime of his career anymore, but he does have plenty of experience. Joyner does have talent, but he can be lost out in coverage. The playoffs did exploit him as the weakest coverage specialist of the starting secondary. It’s a little puzzling because Joyner did a solid job in 2017, but just fell apart at the end of the 2018 season. It should have been a dream come true to play with guys like John Johnson, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, but it never panned out. Weddle won’t possess the same speed as Joyner at this point of his career, but he is still known for being a leader. He tends to make players around him better, and that can be a scary thing with the Rams’ secondary.
Joyner’s new deal wasn’t much less than the franchise tag
It isn’t clear if the Rams were attempting to sign Joyner or if they knew they were going to move, but he didn’t come cheap. The Oakland Raiders are signing Joyner to a 4-year, $42 million contract. If you do the math that’s about $10.5 million per year despite the contract being back-loaded. The Rams were paying about $11.28 million on a franchise tag, and the general consensus is he didn’t live up to the tag. Don’t get me wrong, he’s immediately an upgrade in anyone the Raiders have but they better hope he fits their defense. His contract ranges a little under $10 million per year in 2021 and 2022. Even if Joyner does find success in Oakland/Las Vegas, he simply wasn’t the answer in Los Angeles.
Safety contracts are absurdly high
After signing Weddle to a reasonable 2-year, $10.5 million contract, the cost of safeties are continuously increasing. Here are a few examples:
- Landon Collins 3-year, $45 million with the Washington Redskins. (RIP New York Giants)
- Tyrann Mathieu 3-year, $42 million with the Kansas City Chiefs.
- Adrian Amos 4-year, $36 million with the Green Bay Packers.
Not including Joyner’s contract, this makes Weddle’s contract look tame. Before anyone mentions it, yes, I realize Weddle isn’t in his prime anymore. That said, Weddle is still a damn good player. At $5.25 million a year, this is an impressive decision. Kudos to Snead on this one.