For safety Eric Wed­dle, it’s Ravens or re­tire­ment

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By SEAN GROGAN sgro­[email protected]­cil­whig.com Fol­low Sean Grogan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

— The Bal­ti­more Ravens have dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions to make re­gard­ing their de­fense that fin­ished the sea­son ranked No. 1 in the NFL.

Key play­ers like C.J. Mosley are set to be­come free agents. What to do with ag­ing, ex­pen­sive play­ers is an­other ques­tion to an­swer.

Safety Eric Wed­dle, 34, is en­ter­ing the fi­nal year of his con­tract. Af­ter 12 years in the NFL, Wed­dle un­der­stands the busi­ness. He knows new Ravens gen­eral man­ager Eric DeCosta may con­sider re­plac­ing him with a younger player who would not rep­re­sent such a large hit against Bal­ti­more’s salar y cap.

“I’m go­ing to go speak to Eric and see what he sees with my­self and the team,” Wed­dle said Mon­day as play­ers cleared out their lock­ers at the Un­der Ar­mour Per­for­mance Cen­ter one day af­ter a sea­son-end­ing loss to the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers. “If he wants me back, I’m here. If not, it’s all good. I un­der­stand it and I’ll just ride off in the sun­set. I’m good. I still have a de­sire to play and I feel that I can still af­fect the game, and dom­i­nate games.”

Wed­dle clar­i­fied that if the Ravens choose not to bring him back next sea­son, he will sim­ply re­tire with no re­grets or hard feel­ings.

“If they want to go in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion, I’m not go­ing to go play for an­other team. It’s not where I’m at in my ca­reer,” he said. “It’s ei­ther play my last year here and that will be it and en­joy it, or this has been it. It’s pretty sim­ple. I’m a sim­ple kind of guy.”

Wed­dle signed with Bal­ti­more as a free agent in 2016 af­ter nine sea­sons in San Diego. He was a Pro Bowl se­lec­tion all three years he spent with the Ravens,

OWINGS MILLS

though his pro­duc­tion a bit this sea­son.

Wed­dle failed to in­ter­cept a pass af­ter pick­ing off six last year. His three pass de­fenses were a ca­reer low and he failed to force or re­cover a fum­ble for the first time since 2011.

Wed­dle said his de­clined wife and chil­dren left for Cal­i­for­nia af­ter play­off loss.

“They started school in Cal­i­for­nia. I’m head­ing back there to be Dad and be there for them,” he said of his im­me­di­ate plans.

The Ravens early South­ern Sun­day’s de­fense im­proved this sea­son when Wed­dle took over the play-call­ing du­ties from Mosley. De­spite a loss of speed at his age, Wed­dle pro­vided an un­ques­tioned value to the unit through his lead­er­ship and pre-snap in­tel­li­gence.

“Harbs (head coach John Har­baugh) had a great mes­sage for us, how proud he was for us. The job that he did for us this year was amaz­ing,” Wed­dle said. “We’ll al­ways be re­mem­bered in Ravens’ his­tory, part of the No.1 de­fense in 2018, and AFC North champs. When that ban­ner goes up in that build­ing, we can come back and visit. We were part of that group. It’s a lot to look at. We didn’t get the ul­ti­mate goal, but you can still be a cham­pion with­out win­ning the Su­per Bowl. I’ve learned that over the years.”

AP PHOTO

Bal­ti­more Ravens free safety Eric Wed­dle (32) kneels on the field af­ter a play in the sec­ond half of an NFL wild card play­off foot­ball game against the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers, Sun­day, Jan. 6, 2019, in Bal­ti­more.

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