Baltimore, MD – – The Baltimore Ravens and general manager/executive vice president Ozzie Newsome announced Thursday that they have reached an agreement in principle on a six-year deal with cornerback Lardarius Webb, via team’s press release.
Webb was a restricted free agent entering this year’s free agency and for the 2011 campaign, the four-year veteran led the Ravens with a team-high five interceptions – including a 73-yard touchdown return – and 20 passes defensed. In two playoff games, the Alabama native added an NFL-high three interceptions. Webb started 17 of the Ravens’ 18 games last season.
This extension, which is reportedly worth $50 million that includes a $10 million signing bonus and a $5 million option bonus, for Webb comes to no surprise – for at least two reasons.
The Ravens need him, period. Webb (26) has become a valued member of the team, especially defensively where the squad desperately needed secondary stability. For the 2011 season, with Webb starting, the defensive unit finished fourth in the NFL in passing yards allowed at 196.3 per game. The Ravens also permitted the NFL’s fewest passing touchdowns, as they gave up 11 gifts in the endzone all year.
Secondly, the Ravens normally make good on all their players
“We have a good history of completing second contracts for targeted players we want to keep for the long haul,” said Newsome. “We did that recently with Jameel McClain, just like we did with Haloti [Ngata], ‘Sizzle’ [Terrell Suggs], ‘J.J.’ [Jarret Johnson], Marshal [Yanda] – and many more through the years. Lardarius is an important player for the Ravens, and we’re very happy he will be with us for a long time.”
Webb’s handy work was not only displayed on the defense side of the ball, but on special teams as well as he became a solid return specialist. Last season, the Nicholls State grad led the Ravens with a 10-yard punt return average on 30 touches for 301 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown return.
Webb was originally selected by the Ravens in the third round (88th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft and in his rookie year, he recorded a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown and averaged 26.2 yards per attempt on 35 touches for 918 yards. Webb is doing remarkable things for the Baltimore community through him foundation, The Lardarius Webb Foundation, and his signing means he will be around Charm City awhile longer.
Standing 5-10, 182-pounds, Webb is a physical defensive back who has speed with great hands. In the 45 career regular season games played, Webb started in 19 contests and tallied 164 tackles (136 solo), seven interceptions (113 return yards) and 37 passes defensed.
With the 2012 NFL Draft approaching, the Ravens have eight selections – which they will use wisely. The need to find someone for return duties is on the Ravens’ wish list, and yes, head coach John Harbaugh would prefer to have a backup oppose to a starter filling that job.
“I have no problem with Lardarius returning punts,” said Harbaugh at the Pre-Draft Media Meeting at the Castle Wednesday. “Although, if there is another option that is a better player or takes your starting corner and takes him off the punt return, that’s even better. But, you can’t sit there and play scared. So, I don’t have a problem with that, per se, but I would rather have a backup doing it, yes.”
Veteran safety Ed Reed is not happy with his contract situation with the Ravens, as he sound off on a local sports talk radio show in Baltimore (105.7 The Fan in Baltimore). However, the deal for Webb was money well spent.
Note: Former Ravens defensive tackle Brandon McKinney signed with the Colts Thursday to reunite with former Ravens defensive coordinator-now head coach Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.