I have to be honest, I have avoided this article for as long as humanly possible. Despite the myriad of tweets, Facebook comments and emails from fans asking about the topic, I avoided it like the plague. The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base seems to be rabid with their interest in the team possibly bringing in Free Agent safety Eric Weddle from the San Diego Chargers.
The main reason I have avoided this topic to date is simple, there was no evidence of the Steelers showing interest in the acquisition. No sources, no beat writers and no experts were tipping their hand of Pittsburgh being a potential suitor for the veteran safety.
Fans, on the other hand, were the ones who constantly requested the team bring in the 31-year-old safety assuming he would be "the answer" to the team's woes in the back end of the defense. Well, for all those fans who have been waiting for a "Weddle to the Steelers" rumor, you finally got your wish.
Per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, the Steelers could be one of the four teams reportedly interested in bringing in Weddle for the 2016 season. Weddle supposedly wants to go to a contender, check the Steelers off there, and the next issue then becomes financial terms of the deal. Yeah, you know the one thing the Steelers don't have a lot of -- money.
Nonetheless, Fowler elaborates on the rumors:
"They've at least called Weddle's reps to check on Weddle. Might just be a feeler. Might be more. I think they are players to some extent. If Weddle draws a bidding war, I don't think the Steelers would go crazy."
Let's be honest, the Steelers wouldn't just refuse to "go crazy" in a bidding war, but they can't afford to "go crazy". After signing William Gay, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Robert Golden, Ramon Foster and Ladarius Green, the team will have to wait to re-structure some current contracts (Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey) and extend some other contracts (Lawrence Timmons) to give them enough cap space to negotiate such a contract, while still having enough money left to sign their rookies after the NFL Draft.
The buzz around Weddle has even leaked its way into current and former players.
Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) February 18, 2016
Eric Weddle would be major— Marcus Gilbert (@MarcusGilbert88) March 12, 2016
This very well could be the most unfounded, and huge, free agent rumor mill surrounding a player and the Steelers in the last decade. However, if the Steelers are interested in Weddle, should they sign him? Only if the price is right.
The team cannot afford to sell the farm to bring in Weddle. Financially, the Steelers have more to worry about than the safety position, and last I checked it wasn't the safety play in 2015 which was the overall downfall of the team's passing defense woes.
Back to the finances, I would much rather see the Steelers save the money possibly spent on Weddle and give David DeCastro and Le'Veon Bell new contracts and possibly extend Antonio Brown before giving all that money to one player. Would Weddle improve the team's secondary? Without a doubt, but at what cost? If Weddle wanted to be a part of the Steelers and give them a solid deal, like the team has been able to write up this entire free agency with their other contracts, then you give Weddle serious consideration. However, that is one gigantic 'IF'.
For those fans who subscribe to the 'win now' theory on signing free agents, I don't necessarily buy into such a theory with this current Pittsburgh team. The Steelers are poised for several years, notice the plural tense, of contention. The key parts to this team are still very young and thriving. As long as Ben Roethlisberger is playing at a high level, this team will contend...with or without Eric Weddle.
So, are the Steelers showing interest in Weddle? Apparently so, but I wouldn't go looking to buy a black and gold No. 25 jersey with Weddle on the back of it just yet...