OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens veteran safety Eric Weddle said he hopes to play out the final year of his four-year Ravens contract, but he said he will "ride off into the sunset" and retire if the Ravens choose to release him.
Weddle said he will be meeting with new Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta in the next few days to gauge the team's plans.
"If he wants me back, I'm here. If not, then it's all good," Weddle said as he and his teammates cleaned out their lockers Jan. 7, the day after the Ravens'
23-17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers
in the first round of the playoffs. "I understand it. And I'll just ride off into the sunset. I'm good. I still have a desire to play. I feel that I can still affect the game and dominate games. Either way, I'm good."
"If they want to go in a different direction, I'm not going to go play for another team," Weddle added. "That's not where I'm at in my career. It's either play my last year here, and that'll be it and enjoy it, or this has been it. It's pretty simple."
Weddle, who turned 34 this past week, has one year left on a four-year, $26 million deal he signed as a free agent with the Ravens in 2016. He hasn't missed a start in his three seasons with the Ravens, and he ranked third on the team in tackles this year with 68. He also had one sack and three passes defensed during the regular season.
Weddle recently was selected to the Pro Bowl for the third straight year as a Raven and the sixth time in his career, which has spanned 12 seasons since the San Diego Chargers made him a second-round draft pick in 2007. Weddle earned a $1 million bonus this year by making the Pro Bowl and the postseason in the same year.
The Ravens would clear $6.5 million in cap space by releasing Weddle. His family has already relocated to Southern California, where he intends to live after his career ends.
One of DeCosta's immediate needs as he succeeds Ozzie Newsome as general manager will be to decide how many standouts from the Ravens' top-rated defense will return next season.
Linebackers Terrell Suggs, who has played more games than anyone else in Ravens history, and C.J. Mosley, named to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in five seasons, highlight the list of pending free agents, which also includes team sack leader Za'Darius Smith and defensive end Brent Urban.
Veteran cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr are potential salary-cap casualties as well, with cap figures of roughly $16 million and $7 million, respectively.
As a 12-year veteran, Weddle has seen how NFL rosters turn over ever year, and he recognized that next year's Ravens team won't look exactly like this one, which finished 10-6, won the AFC North title and made the postseason for the first time in four years.
"There's a lot to be proud of," Weddle said. "It's just enjoying the moment now with your guys, and then everyone's going to go their separate ways."
"We'll always be remembered in Ravens history," he added, noting that the Ravens were "the No. 1 defense and 2018 AFC North champs. That banner goes up in that building, and when we come back and visit, we were a part of that group."
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