Ravens release veteran Lardarius Webb, likely ending his long tenure with team

As he packed up his locker the day after a disappointing end to the 2017 season, Ravens safety Lardarius Webb made it clear that he’d like to continue to play. However, Webb knew the decision could be taken out of his hands.

Webb accepted a $2 million pay cut to stay with the Ravens before the 2015 season. Last offseason, he was released by the team to open up $5.5 million in salary cap space, but ultimately re-signed a three-year, $5.1 million deal with the Ravens later.

Webb’s NFL future is again murky after the Ravens released one of their longest-tenured players in what was an expected move given his decreased playing time down the stretch of the 2017 season.

He said goodbye to the Ravens on his Twitter account and a source confirmed that the defensive back has been informed of his release.

Releasing Webb saves $1.75 million and clears the way for several of the Ravens’ young defensive backs, including slot cornerback Maurice Canady and safety Chuck Clark, to play more prominent roles in 2018.

Webb, 32, played in all 16 games with the Ravens last season and started two of them. He finished with 37 tackles, four passes defended, two interceptions, two sacks and one forced fumble.

When Tavon Young and Canady went down over the summer with knee injuries, Webb stepped into the slot cornerback role and played extensively. He was on the field for 46 defensive snaps in the Ravens’ regular-season opening victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and had three tackles and an interception.

However, Canady’s return later in the season led to decreased time for Webb. He played 15 or fewer snaps in the Ravens’ final five games. With Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson entrenched as the starting safeties and Clark and Anthony Levine Sr. behind them, Webb’s role going forward was unclear.

If this is indeed it for Webb and the Ravens, he had a nice run. The only current Ravens who have been with the team longer than Webb are Terrell Suggs, Sam Koch, Marshal Yanda and Joe Flacco.

A third-round pick in 2009 out of tiny Nicholls State, Webb played nine seasons with the Ravens, starting 85 games and finishing with 473 tackles, 15 interceptions, five sacks and 93 passes defended. He also had three return touchdowns, scoring on a kickoff return, a punt return and an interception return.

There was a time where Webb was considered one of the best young cornerbacks in the league, but two torn ACLs and other injuries ultimately robbed him of some of his speed and quickness. Webb, a good blitzer and a sure-handed tackler, converted to safety full-time for the 2016 season and played reasonably well in starting all 16 games.

Webb also added plenty of value off the field. Mentored as a young player by likely future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed, Webb became a defensive leader and a sounding board for many of the Ravens young defensive backs. With his foundation, he also was one of the most visible Ravens in the community.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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