Lardarius Webb

North Notes: Browns, Ravens, Lions, Vikings

Browns edge rusher Myles Garrett, the first pick in this year’s draft, suffered a left foot injury Wednesday that left him in “obvious pain,” reports Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland. A day later, Garrett sat out practice as team doctors evaluated his foot, a club spokesman announced. The Browns won’t provide further details on Garrett’s ailment, per Cabot, who relays that the injury likely isn’t serious. Meanwhile, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Garrett should be “fine.” Foot issues are nothing new for Garrett, who dealt with soreness throughout organized team activities and battled a high ankle sprain during his final year at Texas A&M last season. Fortunately, though, it looks as if he and the Browns will escape relatively unscathed in this instance.

More from the NFL’s North divisions:

  • Unsurprisingly, it appears injured tight end Dennis Pitta‘s release from the Ravens last week will bring an end to his career. When speaking with reporters Thursday, Pitta didn’t announce his retirement, but he conceded, “I’m not delusional” (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun). Hip problems limited Pitta to seven games from 2013-15, but he returned last season to post a 16-game campaign and catch a team-high 86 passes. The soon-to-be 32-year-old suffered a hip dislocation earlier this month, though, leading the Ravens to cut ties after seven seasons.
  • In his first meeting with the Detroit media on Thursday, newly acquired Lions offensive tackle Greg Robinson called the trade that sent him from Los Angeles to the Motor City “a big surprise,” per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Robinson busted with the Rams, who selected him second overall in 2014, and acknowledged that things “haven’t really went the way I would like” to this point. The 24-year-old expects to jump-start his career in Detroit, however. “I plan on benefiting from (my fresh start) tremendously,” Robinson declared. “It’s really refreshing and I plan to make the most out of it.”
  • Browns quarterback Brock Osweiler has been “very happy” with his performance this spring, and the ex-Texan explained Wednesday why his play has improved from his disastrous 2016 in Houston. “The best part is I’m getting coached hard on my fundamentals,” Osweiler said, via Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com. “And I believe firmly that when your fundamentals and your feet are right as a quarterback, you’re going to make great decisions and you’re going to throw accurate footballs.” Osweiler added that his “fundamentals slid” last year, but he declined “to go into great detail” on why. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk interprets Osweiler’s remarks as a shot at the Texans’ coaching staff, particularly Bill O’Brien, who didn’t get along well with the signal-caller last season.
  • Defensive back Lardarius Webb experienced a “tepid market” during his month of unemployment before re-signing with the Ravens in May, as Zrebiec details. The only club known to have expressed interest in the 31-year-old Webb was the Vikings, although Baltimore reportedly had interest in bringing Webb back almost instantly after releasing him. The Ravens saved $5.5MM in cap space by originally cutting ties with Webb, who has since inked a new three-year deal worth $6.3MM (with another $1.4MM available annually via incentives).
  • Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer indicated Wednesday that both kicker Kai Forbath and punter Ryan Quigley will have to fight for their jobs this summer, telling reporters that “there’s an open competition” at both spots (via Mark Craig of the Star Tribune). Forbath, whom the Vikings signed last November after releasing Blair Walsh, made all 15 of his field goal attempts with Minnesota in 2016 but will battle second-year man Marshall Koehn to stay with the club. “He’s got the stronger leg,” Priefer said of Koehn. “This kid is coming on strong. It’s a great competition.” Quigley, an April signing, will try to fend off another second-year player, Taylor Symmank, after averaging a career-worst 41.6 yards per punt on 34 attempts with the Cardinals last season.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Steelers, Ravens

The Bengals were interested in defensive end Chris Smith for more than a year before acquiring him from the Jaguars this week, tweets Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Jacksonville’s new front office structure, which now includes Tom Coughlin, helped the trade come to fruition, per Owczarski. The Bengals forked over a conditional 2018 seventh-round pick for Smith, who has appeared in 19 games over the past three seasons. Smith, 25, will slide into a Cincinnati edge rushing group that also includes Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Will Clarke, and Wallace Gilberry. The Bengals are likely to add a pass rusher early in the draft this month, so Smith isn’t a lock to make the roster, especially given that he hasn’t been active on special teams.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • Washington wide receiver John Ross will meet with the Bengals over the weekend, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Ross was thought to have completed his predraft visits, but Cincinnati scheduled a visit “at the last minute,” according to Rapoport. The Bengals re-signed veteran pass-catcher Brandon LaFell last month, and have 2016 draft picks Tyler Boyd and Cody Core on the roster, but are still looking for another weapon to play opposite A.J. Green. Ross could conceivably be in play for Cincinnati at No. 9 (especially after posting a 4.22 40-yard dash at the combine), but would more likely be in consideration if the Bengals trade down in the first round.
  • Safety Lardarius Webb‘s new three-year deal with the Ravens has a base value of $5.1MM, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). The pact comes with a $1.2MM signing bonus, while another $1.4MM is available annually via incentives. Those incentives are based on playing time, interceptions, fumble recoveries, punt return yards, and other statistical measurements, per Zrebiec. Webb, 32, played 95% of Baltimore’s defensive snaps in 2016, but his role could be reduced now that the Ravens have signed free agent safety Tony Jefferson.
  • The Steelers plan to host Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster next week, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Foster has some off-field concerns and injury issues, but he’s still the best off-ball linebacker in this year’s class, so he probably won’t be around when Pittsburgh comes on the clock at No. 30 barring a draft-day all. The Steelers already boast one of the league’s best inside linebackers in Ryan Shazier, while Vince Williams is projected to replace Lawrence Timmons, who signed with Miami.

Ravens To Re-Sign Lardarius Webb

Less than one month ago, the Ravens released Lardarius Webb. Today, the defensive back is set to return to Baltimore. The two sides are nearing agreement on a new deal, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). It will be a three-year pact with a maximum value of $10.5MM, reports Jeff Zriebec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links). Lardarius Webb (vertical)

Webb, 31, was displaced by the signing of former Arizona safety Tony Jefferson. Jefferson will play a more prominent role in the Ravens secondary, but Webb can still be expected to see a good amount of playing time. Jefferson is much younger than Webb, but the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus indicated that they both played at a high level in 2016. Webb was PFF’s No. 15 ranked safety while Jefferson placed in fifth.

To date, Webb has spent his entire eight-year career in Baltimore and he’s now ticketed for a ninth campaign with the Ravens. In total, he has appeared in 111 games with 82 starts. Last season, he finished with 73 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble in 16 games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Defense

The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2017:

Edge defender:

  1. Dwight Freeney
  2. Elvis Dumervil
  3. Chris Long
  4. Mario Williams
  5. Connor Barwin
  6. Paul Kruger
  7. Trent Cole
  8. Erik Walden
  9. Jason Jones
  10. Darryl Tapp
  11. Devin Taylor
  12. Eugene Sims
  13. Howard Jones
  14. Wallace Gilberry
  15. Sam Acho

The pass rushing market has been completely depleted during the first week of free agency, as 14 of our original top 15 edge players have now been franchised, signed, or, in the case of DeMarcus Ware, retired. As such, a 37-year-old with 15 NFL seasons under his belt is now the best pass rusher on the market. Dwight Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. Capable of playing in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, Freeney can still help out a club on the cheap.Dwight Freeney (Vertical)

Three players on this list — Elvis Dumervil, Connor Barwin, and Eugene Sims — were released by their respective clubs last week, meaning they won’t count against the compensatory formula if and when they’re signed. Dumervil, now 33, was hampered by injuries last season but still earned strong pass-rushing marks from Pro Football Focus. Barwin, meanwhile, wasn’t a good fit in Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 defense, but he should flourish if he signs with a team running a 3-4 look. So far, he’s met with the Bengals (who use a 4-3) and Rams (3-4).

Chris Long has already indicated he won’t be returning to the Patriots, indicating he wants to join a roster where he’ll earn more playing time. Erik Walden, too, won’t re-sign with his 2016 club (the Colts), but he has taken a visit with the division rival Titans. Further down the list, Howard Jones has also met with at least one club, as he was hosted by the Jets on Tuesday. Jones, 27, is recovering from a torn ACL, but did post five sacks in five starts last season.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Johnathan Hankins
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Jared Odrick
  4. Vance Walker
  5. Sen’Derrick Marks
  6. Ricky Jean-Francois
  7. Roy Miller
  8. Al Woods
  9. Tony McDaniel
  10. Cullen Jenkins
  11. Frostee Rucker
  12. Cam Thomas
  13. John Jenkins
  14. Tyson Jackson
  15. Tyson Alualu

Although top-flight players such as Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams have already been signed, the crop of interior defenders remains strong at the top. The buzz around Johnathan Hankins has been virtually non-existent, as the only club that’s been even tangentially linked to the 25-year-old is the Redskins. He’s one of the youngest free agents on the market, and therefore is probably looking for a massive payday. But the lack of interest around Hankins may be an indication that he’s simply asking for too much money.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

The same issue could be surrounding Dontari Poe, although he’s not wanting for meetings around the league. He’s visited with the Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, and Dolphins, while the 49ers and Raiders also reportedly have some level of interest. Clubs may have concerns about Poe’s lingering back issues, and he might have to accept a one-year deal in order to prove he’s healthy and willing to provide full effort.

The remaining defensive interior players are mostly over-30 veterans, with names such as Tony McDaniel, Cullen Jenkins, Frostee Rucker, and Tyson Jackson still looking for new deals. While most of these guys can still play, they may have to wait awhile — possibly into the summer — before signing on with their next club. Jared Odrick (Patriots) and Vance Walker (Bears) have both taken visits, but the most intriguing lineman here may be Sen’Derrick Marks, who offers a good amount of pass rush from the interior.

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Vikings Interested In CB Lardarius Webb

The Vikings have interest in free agent defensive back Lardarius Webb, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press tweets. The Ravens have some level interest in bringing the fan favorite back on a reduced deal, so it’s fair to wonder if he’ll truly consider outside offers. Lardarius Webb (vertical)

[RELATED: Ravens May Re-Sign Lardarius Webb]

The Vikings currently project to start a pair of former first-round picks at cornerback in Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes with Harrison Smith at free safety and Andrew Sendejo at strong safety. However, after losing Captain Munnerlyn to the Panthers in free agency, they could use some veteran help in the secondary. Webb started all 16 regular season games for Baltimore last season while seeing time at cornerback and both safety spots.

Last season, the 31-year-old finished with 73 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens May Re-Sign Lardarius Webb

The Ravens are mulling a reunion with defensive back Lardarius Webb just days after releasing him, tweets Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Additionally, Baltimore may be closing in on agreement with free agent cornerback Morris Claiborne, as several teams with interest in Claiborne believe he’ll ultimately land with the Ravens, per La Canfora.Lardarius Webb (vertical)

Baltimore cut ties with Webb on Friday after agreeing to terms with fellow safety Tony Jefferson, a cost-saving move that saved the club $5.5MM in cap space. Presumably, a potential Webb return would come with a lower price attached. Webb had spent his entire eight-year career in Baltimore appearing in 111 total games with 82 starts. Last season, the 31-year-old finished with 73 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble in 16 games (all starts).

Claiborne, meanwhile, was first linked to the Ravens last week. The 26-year-old transformed himself from a former draft bust to a legitimate top corner in his fifth NFL season, ranking as Pro Football Focus 12th-best corner last year year. Re-signed to a one-year deal worth only $3MM in 2016, Claiborne played in seven and posted one interception. Injuries forced Claiborne to miss more than half of the regular season, though he did return for the postseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens To Cut Lardarius Webb

The Ravens are releasing defensive back Lardarius Webb, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). We heard earlier this week that the Ravens were likely to part ways with the fan favorite.Lardarius Webb (vertical)

By cutting one of their longest-tenured players, Baltimore will save $5.5MM in cap room. Webb, 31, is being displaced after the team’s high-priced signing of former Arizona safety Tony Jefferson. Jefferson is several years younger, but the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus were nearly as high on Webb as they were on Jefferson last year. Webb was PFF’s No. 15 ranked safety, Jefferson placed in fifth.

Webb has spent his entire eight-year career in Baltimore, until today. In total, he has appeared in 111 games with 82 starts. Last season, the defender finished with 73 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble in 16 games (16 starts).

The Ravens will surely be looking for additional help at the position, as the team is currently rostering only a pair of safeties in Jefferson and Eric Weddle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens To Sign Tony Jefferson

A year after signing safety Eric Weddle, the Ravens are set to make another splash at the position in free agency. The club will sign Tony Jefferson, report Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini of ESPN (Twitter link).

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Jefferson is the second big-name defender who has agreed to depart the Cardinals this evening, joining soon-to-be Jaguar Calais Campbell. The safety’s decision to sign with the Ravens came in spite of a better offer from the AFC North rival Browns, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The Jets also had interest in Jefferson, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (Twitter link), but Weddle helped convince him to head to Baltimore, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (via Twitter).

Jefferson hit clubs’ radars in the wake of a season in which he logged career bests in tackles (92), starts (14) and sacks (two). Although Jefferson failed to intercept a pass last year, and has recorded only two picks in four NFL seasons, he’s known for his line-of-scrimmage prowess and managed to rank an outstanding fifth in performance among Pro Football Focus’ 89 qualified safeties. He also rated as our 11th-best free agent and top safety.

The addition of an in-his-prime Jefferson, 25, is a boon for the Ravens, but not for one of their other safeties, Lardarius Webb. The team is now primed to release him and pick up $5.5MM in cap room, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Interestingly, PFF liked the 15th-ranked Webb’s play nearly as much as it did Jefferson’s last season. However, at 31, Webb is the far older of the two. To this point, he has spent his entire eight-year career in Baltimore, where he has amassed 111 appearances, 82 starts and 13 interceptions. Webb started all 16 of the Ravens’ games last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Make Aggressive Offer To Kelechi Osemele

The Ravens have offered to make pending free agent offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele their second-highest offensive player behind Joe Flacco, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed that Baltimore has made an “aggressive” offer to Osemele, adding that the team views him as its left tackle (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun).Kelechi Osemele

When general manager Ozzie Newsome spoke to reporters on Wednesday, he referred to Eugene Monroe as the team’s left tackle, with Osemele facing free agency, but as Zrebiec writes, it was hardly a ringing endorsement of Monroe’s place in the starting lineup, or even on the roster.

While the Ravens are willing to make Osemele their second-highest-paid offensive player, they may have to do so by a significant margin in order to retain him. In terms of per-year salary, guard Marshal Yanda is currently right behind Flacco among offensive players, with an annual salary of just under $8MM. In terms of total value and guaranteed money, Monroe ranks second behind Flacco, with $37.5MM and $17.5MM respectively.

Unless Osemele is willing to take a hometown discount, I’d expect the Ravens to have to pay him upwards of $10MM per season on a four- or five-year deal, since he’s viewed as a left tackle. If he hits the open market, there will likely be at least one or two clubs willing to pay him that much, so it’ll be interesting to see how his talks with the Ravens play out.

Here are several more Ravens updates:

  • While Newsome insisted on Wednesday that the Ravens don’t have to rework Flacco’s contract this offseaon, Harbaugh would be surprised if the two sides don’t address Flacco’s deal (Twitter link via Zrebiec).
  • Harbaugh confirmed that the Ravens are talking to Trent Richardson, though he cautioned that the deal isn’t done yet, per Zrebiec (Twitter link). We heard earlier today that Richardson is expected to sign with the team as long as he passes a physical.
  • Whether or not Richardson comes aboard, Harbaugh sees Justin Forsett as part of the Ravens’ 2016 outlook, meaning he’s not considered a potential cap casualty, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com.
  • Tight end is a priority for the Ravens, with Crockett Gillmore having undergone surgery on both his shoulders and Nick Boyle facing a 10-game suspension (link via Hensley). Zrebiec notes (via Twitter) that Harbaugh was “all over” Boyle, telling reporters that – while the team has no plans to cut the tight end – “there’s no explanation for dumb.”
  • Zrebiec passed along several quotes from Newsome’s Wednesday presser, along with interpretations of what those comments meant. Among Newsome’s most notable statements? The GM expects safety Lardarius Webb back at his current cap figure.
  • Zrebiec tweets that Newsome also challenged quarterback-needy teams to give him a call about the sixth overall pick in the draft.

AFC Notes: Mariota, Clowney, Jaguars

Probably the most-discussed prospect during this year’s pre-NFL draft cycle, Marcus Mariota has drawn the interest from numerous teams who think they have a chance to either select him in the top 10 or move up to No. 2 to make the pick.

At No. 6, the Jets are doing their research. GM Mike Maccagnan and five additional “decision-makers” flew to Eugene, Ore., to work out the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

New coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey joined the Jets’ contingent. Bowles noted earlier this week Geno Smith remains the Jets’ starter, but the former second-round pick has played wildly inconsistent football in two seasons.

Elsewhere around the AFC …

  • Last year’s No. 1 pick and the most-hyped defender to come out of college this decade, Jadeveon Clowney is making “terrific progress” on his recovery from microfracture surgery, the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain reports. Clowney, who told McClain he couldn’t put weight on his right leg until around seven weeks transpired after his Dec. 2014 surgery, hopes to be back on the field by Texans training camp. But the microfracture procedure is one of the worst to undergo if the goal is a quick recovery, although Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce emerged to make an impact less than 12 months after an October 2013 procedure.
  • The Jaguars are “almost certain” to take Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. at No. 3 overall, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. opined to the Florida Times-Union‘s Hays Carlyon. As for the Jags’ second-round pick at No. 36: Kiper noted running backs Todd Gurley and Tevin Coleman (Indiana) before mentioning Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, a former projected first-rounder who sustained a torn ACL in the Liberty Bowl, as a possible wild-card choice, per the Times-Union. Ogbuehi played guard alongside 2013 Jags No. 2 overall selection Luke Joeckel with the Aggies in 2012. Kiper cites the Jaguars’ myriad additions in free agency providing flexibility in Round 2.
  • The former coaches of the Jags’ marquee free agent signings, Julius Thomas, Davon House, Jermey Parnell and Dan Skuta, offered positive stances about their fits in Jacksonville, reports the Florida Times-Union’s Ryan O’Halloran.
  • After helping the Ravens save more than $2MM in 2015 cap space, Lardarius Webb hopes to finish his career in Baltimore, reports the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson. The longtime Ravens corner can earn up to $18MM over the next three years thanks to $500K playing-time incentives in each of those prospective seasons. “Doing the restructure, I’m glad it helps the team financially to make more moves to make the team better,” Webb told Wilson. “It’s not easy losing great players like Torrey Smith, Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee, but this happens every year.”