OWINGS MILLS - The Baltimore Ravens locked up one of their best young players, agreeing to terms with cornerback Lardarius Webb on a five-year, $50 million contract extension that includes a $10 million signing bonus, $5 million option bonus and a total of over $20 million in guaranteed money.
Webb, 26, is now under contract for the next six seasons.
"It feels amazing," Webb told the Times in a telephone interview from South Florida. "It's a dream come true. It seems like yesterday I was watching the Ravens on television and looking up to Ed Reed, and now I get to play beside him.
"This is a blessing. I feel blessed and proud. I'm as excited as I can be. Now, I can relax and play ball and not worry about anything. This settles my mind down."
Webb is set to make $18 million during the first two years of the deal, $25.5 million in the first three years, $33.5 million in the first four years and $41.5 million over five years and $50 million over the entire length of the deal.
It includes base salaries of $7.5 million in 2013, $8 million in 2014 and $8.5 million in 2015 in the first three years of the extension. His salary-cap figure for 2012 is $2.615 million after initially being due a $2.745 restricted free agent tender.
"We have a good history of completing second contracts for targeted players we want to keep for the long haul," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Lardarius is an important player for the Ravens, and we're very happy he will be with us for a long time."
Webb intercepted a career-high five passes during the regular season last year. And he established a franchise record with three interceptions in the playoffs.
Last season, Webb registered a career-high 68 tackles and 20 pass deflections for the NFL's third-ranked defense as he emerged as one of the top young cornerbacks in the NFL.
Webb didn't al low a single touchdown and opposing quarterbacks had a 55.6 quarterback rating throwing at him as Pro Football Focus ranked him fourth overall and second in coverage. The top-ranked cornerback was New York Jets Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Webb overcame a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered during his rookie season.
"They believe in me, they always believed in me," said Webb, who called owner Steve Bisciotti to thank him as well as Newsome and coach John Harbaugh. "They drafted me in the third round after all the things I went through in college. I came back from the ACL surgery and they still stuck with me. I'm on the best NFL team there is. To try to be that leader and superstar, it's a journey and I'm glad to take it."
Webb returned a Mark Sanchez interception 73 yards for a touchdown against the New York Jets last season. And he ran back a punt 68 yards for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns, leading the Ravens with 30 punt returns for 301 yards for a 10.0 average.
A former third-round draft pick from Nicholls State, Webb also forced a fumble and had 1 ½ sacks last year.
"It's a great having him do the things he's doing now," Nicholls State cornerback and NFL draft prospect Bobby Felder said in a telephone interview. "It opens up a foundation for guys like me coming from a smaller school to help people understand that even though I come from a smaller school we still have guys that can play ball. I'm grateful for him to come to Nicholls State and what he has done in the NFL. I hope to follow in his footsteps and play on Sundays.
"We have a great relationship. He calls me all the time throughout the season. He asks me how things are going. He calls me and makes sure I'm training and going hard. He's like a big brother to me. I know him personally. He's a wonderful story. He went through a lot to get to where he is now today. He's a good guy. He never let negativity get him down. I'm grateful for him to get the opportunity I'm getting."
In three NFL seasons, Webb has recorded 164 tackles, seven interceptions, two sacks and 37 pass deflections.
He returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown as a rookie.
"Playing around greatness, playing with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, being able to stand out on that defense, it's a privilege," Webb said. "I've never stopped learning from Ed and Ray. I look and listen to them, everything they say.
"Now, I want to be a leader on the Baltimore Ravens' defense. Now, I can be heard a little bit from more. I might have a little more to say. I hope to take on that role."
With this deal done, the Ravens still have two long-term deals they want to accomplish: quarterback Joe Flacco and Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, their franchise player.
Rice is playing under a $7.742 million contract extension.
The Webb deal could potentially open up talks for Flacco and Rice.
The Ravens are also working on a contract extension for restricted free agent cornerback Cary Williams.
Webb said he's intent on proving he's worth this blockbuster deal and improving his game going forward.
He also wants to contribute even more to the community through his charitable foundation and provide for his family, especially his nine-year-old son, Lardarius, Jr.
"The money is a little insurance, but the game was always about love," Webb said. "I can do more for people. I love the kids and giving back to underprivileged kids and their families.
"I can have a college fund for my son. And I just got engaged to be married. Now, I can keep playing football and just keep the money in the bank and try to be the best cornerback that ever played the game. That's my goal."
Reach staff writer Aaron Wilson at 410-857-7896 or email@example.com.