The Ravens have extended contract offers to their three prominent restricted free agents, giving cornerback Lardarius Webb a first-round tender and cornerback Cary Williams and reserve linebacker Dannell Ellerbe second-round tender.
The Ravens now have the ability to match any contract offered to the three players once free agency begins tomorrow at 4 p.m. If they choose not to match the offer - a decision they will have seven days to make - they will be awarded a draft choice to match the tender that they put on the specific player.
The first-round tenders carry a salary of $2.742 million for the 2012 season, while the second-round tenders will earn $1.927 million for the upcoming season, further cutting into the team’s cap space. The Ravens have under $10 million of cap space heading into free agency.
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However, they viewed all three players as important cogs in the team's vaunted defense. Emerging as a shutdown corner, Webb, 26, had five interceptions during the regular season and three more in the playoffs. Williams, 27, started all 18 games for the Ravens, making 77 tackles during the regular season.
Both players have been discussed as long-term contract extension candidates. Ellerbe, 26, had an injury-plagued season, but the Ravens are ill-equipped to lose him because starting linebackers Jarret Johnson and Jameel McClain are both expected to hit the open market.
The Ravens' fourth restricted free agent - running back Matt Lawrence - was not tendered a contract. He hasn't played since the 2009 season.