Eric Weddle plans to retire a Raven: 'I'm definitely not going to play for another team'

Eric Weddle spent his first nine years in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers. He’s now playing his third with the Ravens. He doesn’t plan to finish his career anywhere but Baltimore.

In a Monday appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” that was posted Tuesday, the standout Ravens safety said that if the team retains him through 2019, the final season of his four-year, $26 million contract, “I’m going to give it all I got.” But if not, he said, he won’t sign elsewhere.

“I’m definitely not going to play for another team,” he said, “so I know that.”

A Pro Bowl selection in each of his two seasons in Baltimore, Weddle has 10 interceptions, three forced fumbles and 164 tackles over 35 games, all of which he’s started. He’s regarded as one of the team’s leaders, and on Sunday wore the defensive headset in a win over the Denver Broncos while linebacker C.J. Mosley was sidelined with a bone bruise on his knee.

But Weddle, 33, said at the team’s offseason minicamp in June that it was “hard just to get up every day, honestly, to go out and do the things necessary to try to be at your best.” He told McAfee, a former NFL punter who played eight seasons for the Indianapolis Colts, that he takes a year-by-year approach when considering how long he might continue playing.

“Twelve years is amazing,” he said. “I've told people, as long as I can run and do what I do defensively, I'll keep playing. As soon as I think it's dropping off or my wife is going to leave me, then I'm going to step away and ride off into the sunset. But I still love the game. I love the grind. I love competing. I love being around the young guys and trying to find ways to lead and to relate to them and get the most out of them and to help them have better careers. But I can't play forever. I know that.”

In the interview, Weddle also discussed why he ended up in Baltimore and not playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens’ “Sunday Night Football” opponent. In addition to the Ravens, he said he considered the Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers — all of them either Super Bowl contenders or recent Super Bowl winners — when he hit free agency. Weddle said he thought he was a “ perfect fit” for the Steelers, and even said that Pittsburgh “was a destination that I wanted to make happen. But it just never happened.”

The Steelers “just were hanging around” in free agency, said Weddle, who’s close friends with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “They had some other options and guys that they needed to get done before me, and they just never wanted to come get it.”

Ultimately, the choice came down to the Ravens and Dallas, where former Chargers assistant coach Rich Bisaccia had relocated. The franchises were “neck-and-neck,” he told McAfee, but in his gut, Weddle felt the Ravens were the best fit.

“I've loved every second of it out here,” he said. “I always tell people that I feel being here for my third year, I was meant to be a Raven, and it feels like I've always played my whole career here.”

Even two-and-a-half years later, he said, Steelers fans are still chirping at him over the perceived snub.

“They always get on me like, 'You should've came here. You picked wrong,' ” he said. “I'm like, 'Look, man. I didn't have a choice. They didn't really want me.' You guys forget, I can say I want to go to a certain team, but if they don't want you or they don't offer you a contract, it doesn't happen and you can't just wait around.”

jshaffer@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jonas_shaffer

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