Ravens release Lardarius Webb

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

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Cornerback Jerraud Powers announces retirement

OWINGS MILLS, MD – After eight seasons, the most recent one being with the Ravens, cornerback Jerraud Powers is retiring from the NFL.

Powers, 29, was a third-round pick out of Auburn in the 2009 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He spent the first four seasons of his NFL career in Indy before signing a three-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals in 2013. He would play out his contract there, and last offseason Powers signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Ravens.

Powers only started six games for the Ravens last season, and had some injury issues early on, but he served as a more-than-capable slot corner. His presence, with Jimmy Smith battling several injuries throughout the season, was crucial.

In the 13 games he played for Baltimore, he recorded 26 tackles, two interceptions, and a sack. He finishes his career with 13 interceptions (75 passes defensed), three sacks, three forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries.

“With the 2017 season getting started and teams are preparing to be the best they can be, I think it’s time for me to walk away from the game,” Powers said in his retirement statement, which was made via Instagram. “The last 8 years have been a joy and wonderful ride. Even though I can still compete and play at a high level, mentally, I’m ready for the next chapter of my life.”

Hot Take: With the Ravens signing veteran cornerback Brandon Carr, and Baltimore’s re-signing of longtime defensive back Lardarius Webb, the retirement of Powers is not shocking. Perhaps the Ravens had a feeling that this was coming from Powers, hence the reason for not re-signing him.

The Ravens’ secondary is still strong with depth. Right now, Jimmy Smith and either Brandon Carr or Tavon Young look to be the starters at cornerback. With Tony Jefferson and Eric Weddle being the presumed starters at safety, Webb could potentially play a lot of slot cornerback this season. The Ravens will likely add more secondary pieces at some point in the draft, but they also have Maurice Canady, Kyle Arrington, and Anthony Levine Sr. on the roster.

 

Ravens Re-Sign Safety Lardarius Webb

OWINGS MILLS, MD — It’s official; Lardarius Webb is coming back to Baltimore.

Rumors of the 31-year-old’s return to the Ravens have been swirling around for a few days, but on Saturday afternoon it was made official. Webb and the Ravens have, reportedly, agreed to a three-year, $10.5 million deal.

Webb was released by the Ravens on March 10, a day after they signed free agent safety Tony Jefferson. Webb hit the market and did not receive a lot of interest from other teams. His return to the Ravens allows him to finish his career in Baltimore, something that the eight-year veteran has always wanted to do.

Webb, a former third round pick out of Nicholls State, played the first seven years of his career at cornerback. Following two ACL tears, among other injuries. Webb’s play at the corner position started to decline, and the Ravens converted him to a safety last season. Webb finished the 2016 campaign with 59 tackles, a sack, and an interception.

Webb’s future role with the Ravens will be an interesting scenario to watch next season. Right now, the Ravens have Eric Weddle and Jefferson at safety. At corner, the assumed starters as of now are Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young. Webb has thrived as a slot corner in the past, so the Ravens could use him there. However, Young is thought to be the slot corner of the future after a solid rookie season.

Bringing Webb back was a good depth move for the Ravens. It is no secret that Baltimore’s secondary has had its share of health problems over the past few seasons, so having bodies certainly helps. Another thing to consider is that the Ravens’ pass rush situation is uncertain. Terrell Suggs turns 35 in October, youngsters Za’Darius Smith and Matt Judon are unproven, and the Ravens traded Timmy Jernigan to the Eagles on Tuesday.

Webb has been a staple in Baltimore since he came into the league. He is certainly not the player he once was, but he his veteran presence, along with that of Weddle and Jefferson, is important to have on any team. Webb is also very active off the field with his charity work, so this deal has a lot of positives.

With Webb’s return, look for the Ravens to attack pass rusher early in the draft, as well as help out the offensive side of the ball. So far, the only real addition the Ravens have added to the offense is running back Danny Woodhead.

Ravens to release Lardarius Webb, create $5.5 million in cap space

On Friday morning the Ravens informed Lardarius Webb that he would be released.

The move will create $5.5 million in cap space and comes as no surprise after the Ravens signed Tony Jefferson yesterday.  Webb’s contract was one of the most inflated on the team but his production over the past few seasons did not justify the cap hit.

Webb transitioned to the safety position last season after playing cornerback for the first seven years of his career. Unfortunately, the transition was not as big of a success as the team would have liked. A combination of injuries and age seem to have had a big impact on Webb in recent years and now limit his production severely.

The eight-year veteran recorded 374 tackles and 13 interceptions during his time in Baltimore.  Prior to the arrival of Jimmy Smith, Webb was the Ravens number one cornerback and served as a leader in the secondary. Only four other current Ravens have been with the team longer than Webb.

Ravens Acquire Safety Tony Jefferson

OWINGS MILLS, MD – It’s official. Safety Tony Jefferson is going to be a Baltimore Raven.

On Thursday afternoon, right after the official NFL signing period began at 4 p.m., it was announced that Jefferson and the Ravens had reached a four-year, $36 million contract. Jefferson and the Ravens agreed to terms on Monday night, but the deal was not made public or official until Thursday.

ESPN‘s Adam Schefter was the first to break the news.

As Schefter alluded to, Jefferson will be teaming with current Ravens safety Eric Weddle.  Together, Weddle and Jefferson could be one of the best safety tandems in the NFL. Last season, Jefferson was ranked the fifth-best safety in the NFL, while Weddle was ranked second. It appears that Weddle had a part in recruiting Jefferson to Baltimore, based on this tweet from a few weeks ago:

Jefferson, formally an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma, played his first four seasons in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals. He has never made the Pro Bowl, but has been a solid player alongside superstar safety Tyrann Mathieu.

In his time with the Cardinals, Jefferson totaled 220 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, and six forced fumbles. He is a hard hitter who will fit in perfectly with the Ravens’ defensive mentality. Right now, three of the starters in Baltimore’s secondary are Jefferson, Weddle, and Jimmy Smith. If all three are healthy, that is a very nice unit.

With the signing of Jefferson, the Ravens will now have to make a decision on what to do with safety Lardarius Webb. Webb has been with the Ravens since 2009, and had a decent season last year in his first stint at safety. However, he has a $7.5 million cap hit this season. Releasing Webb would create $5.5 million in cap space.

Baltimore’s interest in Jefferson had been there for weeks. The Ravens are not expected to be a major aggressor in free agency, but acquiring Jefferson is a solid move. With the picture at safety now becoming clearer, the Ravens now need to upgrade at corner-back. It was reported earlier today that the Ravens have interest in Cowboys free agent corner Morris Claiborne. Whether it is in free agency or the draft, cornerback is a position that the Ravens will be looking to improve.