Eric Weddle thought that the final game of his career took place on Dec. 29, 2019. The Rams beat the Cardinals 31-24 in that contest to clinch a 9-7 record. However, they missed the playoffs and Weddle, then about to turn 35, called it quits.
However, two years after that decision, he was given the opportunity to play again. And the 37-year-old jumped at the chance to join the Rams for the duration of their 2022 playoff run.
Weddle signed to Los Angeles’ practice squad just ahead of their wild-card round game against the Cardinals. The former All-Pro safety was there to provide the team with depth and experience as they looked to go on another Super Bowl run under Sean McVay’s watch.
But why did Weddle decide to unretire? And why did the Rams decide to sign him? Here are the factors that led to Weddle’s improbable reunion with the Rams during the 2022 NFL playoffs.
Why did Eric Weddle decide to unretire?
Weddle came out of retirement because he believes the Rams have a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl.
“This is by no means me having an itch,” Weddle said after joining the team, per SI.com. “It was just an opportunity of a lifetime.”
Weddle had previously been out of the league for nearly two years and had never entertained returning to the NFL, per his agent. Before playing against the Cardinals in the wild-card round, he had last played during the Rams’ Week 17 win over the Cardinals to close the 2019 NFL season.
But when the Rams came calling and offered Weddle, 37, an opportunity to play a role with the team right away, he knew he had to take it. He also knew that he was ready to play, as he stayed in shape after his retirement.
“If I didn’t feel like I could go out there and be what I’m expected to be, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now,” Weddle said. “I feel amazing.”
Weddle played 19 defensive snaps against the Cardinals in his first game back, but he didn’t record any tackles or pass defenses. He’ll continue to operate as a rotational role player as the Rams get ready to face Tom Brady and the Bucs in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Why did the Rams sign Eric Weddle out of retirement?
The Rams signed Weddle because they were in need of safety depth. They lost starter Jordan Fuller for the playoffs due to an ankle injury while the team’s other starter, Taylor Rapp, was in concussion protocol ahead of their wild-card game.
Los Angeles had Terrell Burgess and Nick Scott at the position, but they needed another option behind them. And since both Burgess and Scott are inexperienced and young, Sean McVay preferred to add a veteran to provide depth and experience to the unit.
Weddle happened to be the perfect fit, as he already knows the system and has a great working relationship with McVay, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris and other members of the Rams roster and staff.
“It’s the familiarity,” McVay said. “Some of the things are, the perspective, the leadership. We are still figuring out what is that role that he’ll have in the game, but his presence and him being around is really beneficial — not only for myself but for his teammates. Just the respect that he’s garnered over the course of his career. So, there were a lot of layers to this, but also you’ll see a guy that’s taken great care of himself and we’ll see what that looks like.”
Weddle may not have a major on-field role if Rapp returns to action against the Buccaneers, but it seems like his locker room presence will provide a big boost to the Rams as they look to advance to the NFC Championship Game.
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