<
>

Eric Weddle stunned to hear he'll get $1 million if Ravens make playoffs

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- General manager Ozzie Newsome asked Eric Weddle last Friday if he was ready to go, and the Baltimore Ravens safety thought he was talking about an injury issue.

"No, you got a lot riding on this game," Newsome said.

After Weddle responded that the entire team has a lot invested in the Week 16 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, Newsome clarified himself once again.

"You better bring it and you better have everyone ready because you have a $1 million bucks riding on this game," Newsome said.

That's when Weddle learned that he was closing in on a seven-figure incentive. His contract states that he gets an additional $1 million if he makes the Pro Bowl on the original ballot and the Ravens get to the playoffs in the same season.

Weddle was named a Pro Bowl starter for the AFC on Dec. 19, an expected announcement for a season that has included six interceptions (returning one for a touchdown), 62 tackles and two forced fumbles. Now, he can collect on the first true contract incentive of his 11-year career if Baltimore clinches a playoff berth.

The Ravens can reach the postseason if they beat the Cincinnati Bengals at home Sunday or if either the Tennessee Titans or Buffalo Bills lose.

Weddle, who is in his second season in Baltimore, thought the incentive kicked in for Years 3 and 4 of his contract.

"It's kind of funny," the 32-year-old said. "It's pretty awesome, obviously. I'm grateful that I have this opportunity. It means I've had a great season and our team has."

Newsome brought it up Weddle again in the middle of Wednesday's practice. But that's really been the only mention of it.

None of Weddle's teammates has joked about his potential playoff payoff.

"I don't think anyone knows about it," Weddle said. "I don't bring it up."

Weddle leads the way for a Ravens defense that tops the NFL with 33 takeaways. He either is around the ball or helps put players in position to make the play.

This is what the Ravens envisioned in March 2016, when Baltimore convinced Weddle to sign a four-year, $26 million deal (which included $9 million guaranteed).

"He has been invaluable," coach John Harbaugh said. "He’s been one of the biggest pluses we’ve had in the last couple years. He’s a first-rate leader, and he’s a first-rate football player. That’s a good combination for you. He epitomizes the values of what this organization has been about since it came to town. I love it."

Weddle is earning $4 million this season, which means a playoff trip will bump up his yearly intake by 25 percent.

"Will it make me play any harder? No," Weddle said. "I just hope everything plays out the way it's supposed to."