OWINGS MILLS — Just minutes after the Baltimore Ravens signed offensive lineman James Hurst to a four-year contract, it was announced that longtime defensive back Lardarius Webb had been cut from the team. Before the news had even been revealed to members of the media, Webb tweeted a goodbye message thanking Baltimore.
The Ravens, among the teams with the least amount of cap space in the NFL, saved $1.75 million in by cutting Webb, with $800,000 in dead money. This marks the second year in a row that the Ravens released Webb; last offseason the Ravens cut and eventually brought Webb back on a three-year, $10.5 million deal.
Prior to his release, Webb was one of the longest-tenured Ravens on Baltimore’s roster. A 2009 third-round pick, Webb started 85 games for the Ravens in nine seasons. In 127 games, Webb totaled 409 tackles, 15 interceptions (one pick-six), five sacks, and five fumble recoveries. He also played a key role on special teams as a punt and kick returner. He ran back 85 punts and 38 kicks, including one touchdown in both categories.
In 2017, Webb’s production dipped after returning to the Ravens on his new deal. He only started three games, opposed to starting all 16 games in 2016. He did see an increase in interceptions and sacks (two each in 2017 and one each in 2016), but his playing time diminished and he finished with 35 tackles after notching 59 in 2016.
Webb will be remembered as a versatile leader who overcame a lot of adversity in his career. In nine seasons, Webb suffered two ACL tears, one of which forced him to miss the entire 2012 playoff run including Super Bowl 47. Webb also sustained injuries to his back and hamstring, as well as multiple concussions. When Webb came into the NFL, his first few seasons were spent playing outside corner. Following some injuries, Webb thrived in the slot. After the 2015 season, Webb made the transition to safety and played alongside Eric Weddle. After the addition of Tony Jefferson last offseason, Webb’s time at safety declined and he served a lesser role as a slot cornerback.
Bringing Webb back last offseason was understandable, but it’s unlikely that he will return again in 2018. Webb is 32 and the Ravens possess several young corners that played over Webb in 2017, like Marlon Humphrey and Maurice Canady. Not to mention that Tavon Young will return from a torn ACL, and the Ravens will likely keep Brandon Carr after Ozzie Newsome’s comments at the NFL combine. Even with Jimmy Smith’s season-ending Achillies injury last season, Humphrey, Carr, and Canady all played over Webb, and Young’s return will only bump Webb down more. Webb is on the last legs of his career, and his cap number did not justify keeping him on a roster that has several pressing needs on offense.
Image Credit: Baltimore Ravens