One of the longest-tenured defenders in Ravens history, Lardarius Webb announced his retirement Saturday. The free agent defensive back did not play last season but was an integral Baltimore contributor for most of the 2010s.
The Ravens released Webb at the start of the 2018 offseason, doing so after making the same transaction in March 2017. But unlike in 2017, the team did not re-sign him. Webb worked out for multiple teams, the Titans and Saints, last year but did not end up catching on anywhere. The 33-year-old defender will retire after a nine-year career — spent entirely in Baltimore.
Only Ed Reed and Chris McAlister started more games as Ravens secondary members than Webb, who was an 86-game starter between 2009-17. The former third-round pick served as a key part of the many successful Raven defenses during the team’s run of playoff berths to start John Harbaugh‘s tenure, becoming a full-time starting cornerback by the 2011 season.
Months prior to the Ravens’ Super Bowl championship 2012 season, they extended Webb on a five-year, $50MM deal. Although an injury ended his 2012 slate after six games, Webb returned as a full-timer and retained that status through the 2016 season.
The Nicholls State alum concluded his career with 15 interceptions and 409 solo tackles (fourth in Ravens history) in 127 career games.
Webb, 33 in October, has reportedly garnered a few offers this offseason. He was used mostly off the bench last season, but he’s made 85 starts with Baltimore and suited up for 127 regular-season games. He’s also seen action in six playoff games for the Ravens, though an injury prevented him from suiting up during the Ravens’ four 2012 playoff contests. In Baltimore’s near-Super Bowl run during 2011, Webb intercepted eight passes with five in the regular season and three in the postseason.
Webb could improve the Titans’ depth in the wake of safety Johnathan Cyprien‘s season-ending ACL tear. It’s unlikely that he’d slide into the starting lineup, but he could provide support at both safety and corner.
Free agent defensive back Lardarius Webb plans to continue playing, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Webb, who played his entire career with the Ravens to date, has a few offers and is currently weighing them.
Webb was used mostly off the bench last season, but he’s made 85 starts with Baltimore and suited up for 127 regular-season games. The Ravens, who were up against the cap in the spring, cut Webb to save $1.75MM. The Ravens also released Webb in March of 2017, but brought him back at a reduced rate. It’s not clear if the Ravens are considering something similar this time around.
Webb, 33 in October, saw action in six playoff games for the Ravens, though an injury prevented him from suiting up during the Ravens’ four 2012 playoff contests. In Baltimore’s near-Super Bowl run during 2011, Webb intercepted eight passes with five in the regular season and three in the postseason.
For the second straight March, the Ravens made the decision to release their longest-tenured defensive back.
The franchise cut Lardarius Webb again on Monday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), and there might not be an immediate path back onto the roster for the nine-year Ravens starter.
Webb was used mostly off the bench last season, but he’s made 85 starts with Baltimore and suited up for 127 regular-season games. The Ravens, who are up against the cap, will save $1.75MM by making this move.
The Ravens brought Webb back last year at a reduced rate but may not do the same for what will be the defender’s age-33 season.
He saw action in six playoff games, starting four, for the franchise. Although, an injury prevented him from suiting up during the Ravens’ four 2012 playoff contests. However, in Baltimore’s near-Super Bowl run during 2011, Webb intercepted eight passes (five in the regular season, three in those playoffs).
Tom Brady suffered a “painful” thumb injury during a practice that took place at the beginning of the week, reports Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston. According to Curran, the 40-year-old quarterback cut his thumb badly when a running back smashed it while the team was running a play at practice. However, Curran notes that Brady can throw, but doesn’t know exactly just how much it will affect the Patriots gameplan this Sunday.
As always, Curran notes that the team is not letting much information out to the press or public at this time. It’s highly unlikely that Brady will not play in the AFC Championship game, but it is a story that people should keep track of as the game time approaches over the weekend. Perhaps the biggest development that Curran has to offer is that Brady is “not taking snaps from under center”.
The team has listed Brady as questionable on the most recent injury report, but the impact of the injury could have a major effect on BillBelichick‘s gameplan even though nobody expects the five-time Super Bowl winner to miss such a big game.
While the addition of NaVorro Bowman could not stop the bleeding of a disappointing 2017 Raiders season, that doesn’t necessarily mean that new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther doesn’t want the veteran linebacker back in the fold in 2018, reports Scott Bair of NBC Sports. “NaVorro is a prototype middle linebacker, really,” said Guenther. “The thing that impressed me most with NaVorro is that they got him here midseason and by the end of the year, it appeared to me that he was kind of the leader of the unit, making a lot of calls. You can see that on tape. It looks like he is a smart guy that understands the game. I love smart guys that love playing football. Hopefully we can get him back in the fold and keep him a Raider.”
Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson was arrested on a number of charges earlier this morning. Connor Hughes of NJ.com has more details about what occurred to bring this type of discipline. According to a police report that NJ.com obtained, Hughes reports that Anderson”rapidly accelerated” past cops at 105 mph after he saw them on the side of the road. As the cops followed behind Anderson, the report states that Anderson was “all over the road”, and seemingly “failed to maintain a single lane on numerous occasions.” Anderson did eventually stop the car and was arrested, but not until make a number of threats to the police officer’s wife. These details spell more bad news for Anderson who already was arrested back in May while he was at a festival in Miami. The wideout may face discipline from the NFL, but the league still must do their due diligence investigating the incidents until any punishments will be handed down to the 24-year-old.
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 acquiredLions 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.
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 (Twitterlink). 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.
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 (Twitterlinks).
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.
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:
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.
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).
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.
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.
While players at other defensive positions have flown off the board, there’s been almost no movement among off-ball linebackers. Only five of PFR’s original top-15 free agent linebackers have signed new contracts, a group that includes Dont’a Hightower, our previous No. 1 ‘backer who re-signed with the Patriots today. Zach Brown, who now holds that honor, broke out in his fifth NFL campaign and played especially well in coverage, a skill that should lead to a handsome reward. Brown, 27, met with the Raiders today, while the Dolphins also hope to schedule a visit.
The Bengals, specifically, are in the linebackermarket, as they’ve met with both Kevin Minter and Keenan Robinson in recent days. But the rest of the players on this list aren’t drawing much interest as of yet, a fact that speaks to the devaluation of the linebacker position. Teams will pay up for a three-down linebacker like Hightower, but if a player can be formation-ed off the field, he’s not going to land a hefty deal.
One linebacker who did prove he could stay on the field on third down was Perry Riley, who played 370 coverage snaps for the Raiders last season. Riley is still only 28 years old, but posted awful marks from Pro Football Focus during his previous campaigns with Washington. Whether it was Oakland’s scheme (including its talented pass rushers) that allowed Riley to flourish, or a true breakout coming in the middle of a career, Riley could help a number of clubs. The Raiders are reportedly working to bring him back.
The top two corners still on the open market are both former Cowboys, and Brandon Carr looks like the surer bet to return to Dallas at this point. Morris Claiborne, meanwhile, has drawn interest from the Ravens, and most opposing clubs believe he’ll end up signing with Baltimore. Clairborne, 27, appeared to be a prime overpay candidate heading into the offseason, but if the Ravens can land him on a short-term deal, they’d be making a wise investment.
Now that all charges have been dropped against Darrelle Revis, he’ll make for an interesting test case in free agency. Clearly, Revis is not the shutdown corner he once was, and may even be mulling a move to safety as he closes his career. But clubs in the market for secondary help could do worse than Revis, and he should be on a roster when the regular season rolls around.
Most of the safeties on this list are in-the-box types — that’s thanks to the fact that center field-esque safeties are more rare and thus more expensive. Recently-released veterans such as Jairus Byrd, Lardarius Webb, and Corey Graham, however, offer coverage ability and would make for decent signings on short pacts. T.J. McDonald and Bradley McDougald, on other hand, are big hitters that will patrol near the line of scrimmage. McDougald, specifically, will take a visit with the Seahawks this week.
Chris Prosinski is just a special teamer, but he’s a great special teamer. While he only played 173 defensive snaps in 2016, he saw time on more than 80% of the Bears’ special teams plays, and was listed as one of the season’s best special teams players by Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus. Football Outsiders ranked the Cardinals, Jets, and Texans as the bottom-three teams in special teams DVOA, and any of those clubs would benefit from adding Prosinski.
Demand is not high for placekickers at the moment, as only the Giants and Bengals stand out as clubs that immediately need a kicker. Injuries and ineffectiveness are sure to strike the position, however, at which point the specialists on this list will surely receive calls. Dan Carpenter and Mike Nugent missed a combined 11 extra points in 2016, and given that he topped both Carpenter and Nugent in field goal percentage, Nick Folk should be the first kicker on clubs’ emergency list.