Eric Weddle became a starting safety for the Chargers in 2008. Since then, San Diego has had some pretty good defenses. They have also had some bad ones. They have gone through multiple coordinators, some terrible cornerback play, a lot of turnover on the front seven, and the list goes on. The one thing that has remained constant is Eric Weddle.
What He Brings
Eric Weddle can do it all. He is best as a rangy center-fielder who's instincts and athleticism can help cover ground when the rest of the secondary struggles. He was asked to play out of position in 2013 to make up for deficiencies on the rest of the defense (which does not make sense to me). He played a lot more in the box and shadowing tight ends early in the year and fans wondered why he didn't look like himself. Again, he can still fill that role playing at a fairly high level, but that is not where he is at his best. The multiple upgrades on defense should force the coaching staff to let Weddle play his best position.
Importance to the Chargers
For the past few seasons, Eric Weddle has been the only good player in a bad secondary. They haven't used a first-round selection on a defensive back since 2008 (Antoine Cason) and that one hasn't gone as we would have hoped. The starting safety next to Weddle has also been a revolving door. Having a free safety like Weddle can help make up for what the rest of the secondary lacks. The previous regime refused to give Weddle help in the secondary, but Tom Telesco has done quite the job of bringing in new talent with Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett.
That being said, with all of the new talent on defense, Weddle's role becomes even more important. Newcomers Flowers and Verrett will likely make up two of the teams' top three cornerbacks. We could also see a new starer at strong safety, depending on how that competition shakes out. Weddle will once again be the glue that holds the secondary together. He will have a chance to lead what has a chance to be a very good secondary for the first time in a long time. His combination of skills, durability (hasn't missed a game since 2009), and leadership make him the clear choice for the second most valuable Charger. Oh, and the beard certainly doesn't hurt.