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Ravens release safety Lardarius Webb, creating $5.5 million of cap room

Tony Jefferson's signing made Lardarius Webb's release inevitable.

The list of players who have been Ravens longer than Lardarius Webb includes just four names: quarterback Joe Flacco, guard Marshal Yanda, punter Sam Koch and rush linebacker Terrell Suggs.

Webb’s eight-year tenure with the organization now appears to be over as the Ravens have released the veteran defensive back who has been a full-time starter with the team since 2011, and started all 16 games last year. The moves comes a day after the Ravens finalized a deal with former Arizona Cardinal Tony Jefferson, the top free-agent safety on the market, and spent big to keep nose tackle Brandon Williams.  

Webb’s release creates $5.5 million of salary cap space, and continues the Ravens’ efforts to revamp their secondary. Cornerback Shareece Wright and safety Kendrick Lewis were also released this week. Reserve safeties Matt Elam and Anthony Levine Sr. are also unrestricted free agents.

In his first season as a safety after transitioning over from cornerback, Webb, 31, improved throughout the year, stayed healthy and finished fourth on the team with 73 tackles. He also had one interception and one sack, while being one of the defensive unit’s more vocal members.

Webb, though, was a victim of advanced age and a high salary cap number. Heading into the offseason, his $7.5 million cap charge for 2017 had been the seventh highest on the team and the ninth highest among NFL safeties. With Webb due to make a base salary of $5.5 million in the final year of his three-year contract, there was some talk that the veteran could be asked to take a pay cut, like he did in 2015 when he agreed to a $2 million trim.

However, Jefferson’s addition and the team’s need for salary cap relief likely took the pay cut option of play.

If this is indeed the end for Webb with the Ravens, he fashioned a solid career for a player the team selected in the third round of the 2009 draft out of tiny Nicholls State. Entering the NFL as a cornerback, he started 83 games over eight seasons and had 13 interceptions and three return scores (one via an interception, one on a punt return and one on a kickoff return).

Mentored by close friend and former teammate Ed Reed, Webb also became one of the most visible Ravens off-the-field through his work with the Lardarius Webb Foundation. His annual charity softball game was an extremely popular event in the area.

Injuries, though, seemed to prevent Webb from developing into the Pro Bowl cornerback that he seemed primed to become early in his career. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee late in his rookie season in 2009.

Two years later, he had his best NFL season, intercepting five passes, registering 68 tackles, and scoring a punt return touchdown. The Ravens believed Webb was well on his way to becoming a shutdown cornerback and they signed him to a five-year, $50 million deal before the 2012 season.

He had a strong start to the 2012 campaign before he again tore an ACL, this time in his left knee, during an October game against the Dallas Cowboys. Webb went to injured reserve and wasn’t able to participate during the team’s Super Bowl run.

Webb returned and played in all 16 games in 2013, but myriad injuries seemed to take their toll over the years. He started playing more safety in the second half of the 2015 season and then moved to the position full time last year.

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