The Atlanta Falcons announced the re-signing of wide receiver Eric Weems yesterday following a first report by ESPN’s Vaughn McClure that the team had re-signed him to a two-year contract. Per McClure, the deal is worth nearly a total of $3 million. Weems was set to hit free agency on Tuesday as an unrestricted free agent.
Weems re-joined the Falcons last summer after spending two seasons playing with the Chicago Bears. This past season, Weems appeared in all 16 games and lead the Falcons in special teams tackles with 12. He also made some appearances on offense, catching 10 passes for 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Weems also returned a pair of kickoffs for 34 yards in 2014.
Weems fulfilled the same role in Atlanta in 2014 as he did in Chicago in 2012 and 2013, adding depth at wide receiver, leading coverage units on special teams and backing up return specialist Devin Hester, who also left Chicago to join the Falcons this past year.
Weems signed with the Bears in 2012 after spending the first five seasons of his career with the Falcons. Then, he also was the team’s primary return specialist on kickoffs and punts. He currently ranks sixth all-time in Falcons history in all-purpose yards, which combine rushing, receiver and return yards. During his first five seasons in the NFL, Weems averaged 10.6 yards on 77 punt returns and 25.5 yards on 115 kickoff returns.
He also was a leader on coverage units, which along with his return skills landed him a spot in the Pro Bowl in 2010. Over his career, Weems has recorded 78 tackles on special teams, including a career-high of 16 in 2010.
Weems was originally an undrafted rookie out of Bethune-Cookman with the Falcons in 2007. He spent the majority of his first two seasons in Atlanta on the practice squad, before fully making the roster in 2009.
Weems is expected to continue to add depth at wide receiver for the Falcons and could be slotted into the fifth wide receiver position ahead of players like Bernard Reedy and Drew Davis.
Davis is an impending restricted free agent, in which the team has to make a decision on whether to tender him a one-year contract on Monday, March 9. As a restricted free agent, the Falcons will have the “right of first refusal” if Davis signs with another team, meaning they have the opportunity to match his contract. If they do not, then the Falcons will receive draft pick compensation from the signing team. But since Davis is a former undrafted free agent, if he is tendered at the lowest level ($1.542 million), then the Falcons will receive no compensation in the form of a draft pick. The team’s other option might be to tender him at the second-round level ($2.356 million) if they are afraid of him leaving. If done, then the Falcons would receive a second-round pick should Davis sign with another team, which is an extremely low possibility.
The Falcons could also opt not to tender Davis, which would then make him an unrestricted free agent. As such, he would then be eligible to sign for a veteran minimum contract, which for a player with only three years of experience is $660,000. Thus, if the Falcons aren’t able to get a deal done this weekend with Davis, they can potentially save close to $900,000 in cap space by not tendering him.