No team in the AFC North has been more active in reshaping their roster for the 2017 season than has been the Baltimore Ravens, who added a number of key free agent pieces, traded a couple of players, signed some of their own unrestricted free agents, and even excised a number of players who were too much of a cap burden to bear with a time with limited space.
Among those salary cap casualties was longtime starter Lardarius Webb, who transitioned from a starting outside cornerback with slot flexibility to a starting safety for the 2016 season, a role that he played pretty well, nearly recording an interception in the first game against the Steelers.
In releasing Webb, the Ravens saved $5.5 million in cap space, but it appears they are soon to give some of that back, as multiple sources are reporting that the team is closing in on a deal to bring the veteran back into the fold.
Personally, it’s a move that I think makes a lot of sense. We’re talking about a player that has the capability of backing up any position in the secondary, and who is still a capable starter. He can be used as a sixth defensive back in their newly rebuilt defensive backfield.
While Webb was a part of the starting nucleus for some time, including as a safety last season, the Ravens have significantly transformed their secondary in just two years. They added Eric Weddle on the back end to pair with Webb at safety last year, and are now replacing Webb with Tony Jefferson, another free agent addition.
They also brought in Brandon Carr at cornerback, and second-year contributor Tavon Young is likely to man the slot. The oft-injured Jimmy Smith is the only holdover of more than a year’s vintage in Baltimore’s back end on defense.
Webb could potentially fill in at any role should any of the above-mentioned players go down, and he will inevitably do so at a reduced rate than that which he was slated to be compensated for entering the 2017 season process before he was released.
The Ravens utilized that instant cap savings to restock their defense with the signings of Jefferson and Carr, and now that their major free agency expenditures are behind them, they have evidently found that they can still afford to keep Webb in the fold, which is a valuable piece of retain.
Over the course of his eight-year career, Webb has been a full-time starter for six of them. He has recorded 428 tackles to go along with three sacks. His 13 interceptions are highlighted by a five-pick year back in 2011. He also has 87 career passes defensed and has created two fumbles.