The Raiders locked down three top-flight free agents this week. They’d like to land another.
Chargers free safety Eric Weddle is the target, though the three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro won’t be wooed solely by the smell of money.
A league source said earlier this week that the 31-year old planned to take visits. He is expected to choose the most competitive and schematic fit from a number of options. The San Diego Union Tribune reports that at least four teams are vying for Weddle, and that talks are in early stages.
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Multiple sources indicated the Raiders have interest in Weddle, and one said they reached out to his representatives in hopes that he would join offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, linebacker Bruce Irvin and cornerback Sean Smith in the team’s free-agent class.
While that trio, Irvin in particular, has started recruiting Weddle already, not to mention Raider Nation's loud pitch on social media, Weddle won’t be rushed into a decision.
“Patience,” Weddle’s agent, David Canter, wrote on Twitter. “Have to make the right decision. We have lots to process.”
That hasn’t stopped the newest Raiders defenders from thinking about adding Weddle to the mix.
“I was talking to him before I even came up here,” said Smith, also represented by Canter. “Look, if we were to add Eric Weddle, it would just be so special. But regardless of who we add, I know (assistant defensive backs coach Rod Woodson) and (secondary coach Marcus Robertson) are going to make it work in the back-end. But Eric Weddle is definitely a special player and I think if we can get him, we’ll be alright.”
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Weddle struggled with injury last season and missed games for the first time in five years, but has been a dynamic, consistent producer for most of his storied career. He had 19 interceptions, 71 passes defensed and five forced fumbles during nine seasons with San Diego. He is a famously hard worker known for his leadership and football intelligence.
The Raiders filled important needs with Irvin and Smith, but need some help at safety and inside linebacker. They have Nate Allen under contract and could move TJ Carrie to safety permanently after his successful cameo last season. They could draft at safety as well, but Weddle is the first option -- something Irvin agrees with fully.
“I feel like you have to have a great set of DBs to complement great rushers, so that’s the main reason for me pushing for Eric,” Irvin said. “He’s a great player, an All-Pro. He’s done a lot of great things in this league, understands what it takes to be a winner. We need more of those guys around here, so that’s the biggest thing. I’m just trying to get as many players over here who kind of want to be in and be a part of what’s going to happen because it’s about to be something special that really happens here.”