Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb was once on the path to becoming a Pro Bowl player. Jimmy Smith also appeared to be headed that way last season before suffering a foot sprain about halfway through the season that landed him on injured reserve.
Smith was limited to just eight games last season. While Webb played in 13, with 11 starts, he was limited for most of the season by a back injury that clearly impacted his performance. At 29, the Ravens were at one time considering releasing him, but he ultimately agreed to accept a substantial pay cut of $2.5 million.
It seems that Webb has largely lost the form that had him headed on the path league-wide recognition following his bout of injuries. Smith, a former first-round selection from a few years ago, just began to walk that path last season, and it’s yet to be determined how much of a detriment that foot injury will be to getting back on track.
Despite the lingering questions facing their secondary, the Ravens haven’t done very much to address their own concerns at the cornerback position, which was largely made up of players off the streets, or so it seemed, for large stretches of the 2014 season, whose shortcomings were masked by a strong front seven that lost some key components this offseason.
Entering a deep draft class for the position, the Ravens waited until the fourth round to add a cornerback to the depth chart, that coming in the form of Tray Walker, a tall, lanky, small-school prospect that will take time to develop.
The Ravens did not add any outside talent to the position during free agency, either, and they know that they still need, or at least want, to address the cornerback spot between now and the start of the regular season after facing the year that they had in 2014 and begin cognizant of the injury history of their two starting cornerbacks.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome spoke yesterday with PSL owners during a conference call, where they acknowledged just that. Harbaugh said that the team is “still looking for defensive backs, adding “there’s no doubt about it. We want to add some competition there”.
Newsome also acknowledged that he has been on the phone with the representatives of many players currently available on the market, which may well include the recently released Kyle Arrington, though the longtime general manager would not specify.
The Ravens’ cornerbacks will have some new targets within the division that they will have to contend with this season, as the Pittsburgh Steelers used a third-rounder to round out their already strong stable of wide receivers, and the Cleveland Browns also turned to free agency to revamp their starting lineup as well.