Eric Weddle isn’t the “highest paid safety in NFL history”

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When word broke of safety Eric Weddle’s new contract with the Chargers, agent David Canter proclaimed that Weddle is the “highest paid safety in NFL history.”

As it turns out, he’s not even the highest paid safety in his division.

We smelled a rat immediately, but it was the least of our concerns while trying to avoid getting thrown off the constantly bucking bronco that is 2011 NFL free agency.  Now that things have slowed down (a little) we had a chance to do a little research.

Just last year, the Chiefs gave Eric Berry a six-year, $60 million contract with $34 million guaranteed.   Eric Berry plays safety.  Ergo, Weddle isn’t the highest paid safety in NFL history.

But the informational feeding frenzy is prompting most of us in the media to run with what we’re told, assuming that folks won’t notice — or won’t remember — the fact that we passed along inaccurate information.  Sometimes, we don’t even remember it ourselves.

For example, Jason LaCanfora of NFL Network tweeted last July 30 that Berry’s six-year, $60 million deal with $34 million guaranteed makes him the “highest paid safety in NFL history.”  Today, LaCanfora described Weddle’s $19 million as “record guarantees . . . for a safety.”

That’s not intended to be a slap at Jason.  When he reported the Berry numbers, he relied on the accuracy of what the source told him.  And when Jason reported the Weddle numbers, he did the same thing.

That’s why the safest approach for anyone in the media when a source makes broad claims about the value of a deal is to leave it out until it can be verified by someone who doesn’t have a direct interest in making a deal look better than it really is.