Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb, visiting the Chick Webb Recreation Center as part of the Ed Block Courage Awards, talked about the team trading Haloti Ngata to the Lions. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
The Ravens entered the offseason with defensive stars Haloti Ngata and Lardarius Webb contracted for the 2015 season, but with salary cap figures too high for the team's liking.
Webb said his "heart just dropped" that afternoon when he saw the news on Twitter. It made him think of what Ngata's loss would mean to the Ravens, and also what Ngata's trade could mean for his own future with the team.
"Am I next?," Webb recalled thinking as he spoke Monday morning while at an event in conjunction with the Ed Block Courage Awards. "That's how I felt. Man, if Haloti's gone, I know I'm not here.
"But I mean, [general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] knows what he's doing," Webb continued. "I trust in Ozzie, the organization, Coach [John Harbaugh]. There is no place I would rather be than here. I'm loved here, the organization loves me, I love them. And I know I can improve on some of my play — I didn't have my greatest season last year — but I'm a Raven. I'm a Raven for life."
Webb has an $8 million base salary and $12 million salary cap hit for the 2015 season, and he had 46 tackles and one interception in 13 games last season, a year in which he missed time because of a preseason back injury.
Despite the Ravens' efforts to restructure his contract, Webb said he hadn't heard about the results of such talks. He emphasized that he wanted to continue to be a Raven. When asked whether that feeling was the same from the organization, Webb said, "I hope so."
The Ravens have lost plenty of stars before, but many were expected, Webb said. Ngata's departure was different, and it leaves a hole in the locker room he said will be noticeable.
"Haloti's the biggest shock I've ever had since I've been here," he said. "Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, it was kind of predictable. You knew they were leaving. Torrey smith, I knew he wasn't coming back. Pernell McPhee, some of those guys, we just know they were going to get paid somewhere else.
"But Haloti Ngata, we expected to have him back," Webb said. "To not have him back is going to be a different locker room, different atmosphere. Haloti Ngata, he's the best defensive tackle in the game, hands down. I don't care who else you're talking about."
Webb believes young defensive tackles Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams can develop into top defensive tackles beside each other.
Webb was speaking at the Chick Webb Recreation Center in Baltimore as part of the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation's outreach day. Each NFL team has one award winner, as selected by his teammates for his sportsmanship and courage.
In advance of Monday night's awards gala at the downtown Hilton, players participate in a number of service events, including an afternoon at St. Vincent's Villa in Timonium and the outreach event Monday morning. The NFL stars played games, signed autographs, and held court with the young participants for several hours Monday morning.
Many of the players were awarded because of their returns from serious injury, which Webb said was an example for the children that no obstacle is too large to overcome. But the simple companionship the weekend provided impacted both the players and children alike, he said.
"It's something we live by as Ravens, W.I.N.—What's important now?" Webb said. "Yesterday, what's important now was the kids."
"Anything I can just do there, just talk with them and help change their life or just change their day, I'm able," he said. "I'm here for it. Yesterday was a chance to go and spend some time with some kids and just have fun, not have any worries about nothing. … It was great."