The Rams were in the market for a safety, and they did not wait for the official start of free agency to find one.
Veteran Eric Weddle, released this week by the Baltimore Ravens, signed a two-year contract with the Rams on Friday.
Terms were not disclosed, but the deal is worth $10.5 million, with Weddle due to earn $5.25 million each season, a person with knowledge of the situation said on the condition of anonymity. The deal also includes incentives that could be worth as much as $1 million per season if the Rams win the Super Bowl, the person said.
Weddle, 34, is a 12-year veteran and six-time Pro Bowl selection. He played nine seasons for the Chargers and then signed a four-year, $26-million contract with the Ravens before the 2016 season. He has 29 career interceptions.
“Ready to rock this thing,” Weddle said to Rams fans in a video tweeted by the team. “Thanks for the support. I won’t let you down. Let’s go Rams.”
The NFL’s “legal tampering” period, when agents for pending free agents can negotiate with teams, begins Monday. Contracts can be signed Wednesday when the NFL’s new league year begins.
Because Weddle was cut with time remaining on his contract, he was allowed to negotiate and sign with a team before Wednesday. And because he was not a free agent, his acquisition will not affect the Rams in regard to compensation picks they might be rewarded for losing unrestricted free agents.
Weddle, who attended Alta Loma High in Rancho Cucamonga and played in college at Utah, fills a major need for a team coming off a season that ended with a 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Last season, the Rams paid safety Lamarcus Joyner nearly $11.3 million on a franchise tag. The Rams and Joyner did not agree to terms on a contract extension, so Joyner will become an unrestricted free agent in what has become a crowded and talented safety market. With Weddle now taken, that group includes Earl Thomas, Landon Collins, Tyrann Mathieu and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Weddle adds another veteran presence to a Rams secondary that features cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters and safety John Johnson, who had a breakout performance in his second NFL season.
Rams players reacted quickly to the acquisition of a player who goes by the Twitter handle of @weddlesbeard.
Quarterback Jared Goff tweeted an image of Weddle running his hands through his beard.
“@weddlesbeard welcome my boy!!!” tweeted Talib.
“Ice cream for dessert tonight!!!” tweeted receiver Cooper Kupp.
Weddle’s addition came a few days after the Rams released linebacker Mark Barron and did not exercise their option on center John Sullivan. Both will test the market but could re-sign with the Rams at lower salaries.
Edge rusher Dante Fowler, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, running back C.J. Anderson and backup quarterback Sean Mannion are pending unrestricted free agents.
The Rams are expected to continue shopping for edge rushers and linebackers among others. They have seven picks in the April draft, including the No. 31 pick.