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Late For Work 3/22: Tony Jefferson's Major Hat Tip To Lardarius Webb; Dennis Pitta's Restructure

Posted Mar 22, 2017

Tony Jefferson said he’ll give No. 21 back to Lardarius Webb if he returns. Dennis Pitta is taking a pay cut for 2017 and 2018. Did the Ravens try to retain Kamar Aiken? Baltimore is in line for two comp picks.

Tony Jefferson Gives Major Hat Tip To Lardarius Webb

After newly signed safety Tony Jefferson announced he will wear No. 21, many fans saw it as sign that the potential for Lardarius Webb’s return is officially dead.

After all, Jefferson is getting the number of the player he’s replacing at safety, and Webb was released one day before the team signed Jefferson.

But if Webb still does return, Jefferson showed the ultimate sign of respect to the man who has been roaming the Ravens secondary for the past eight years.

General Manager Ozzie Newsome left the door open for Webb to return, and the longer he sits on the open market perhaps increases that likelihood. His release was only 12 days ago, but so far there hasn’t been any action. On March 13, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that the Minnesota Vikings were “exploring whether Webb is a potential fit.”

“The longer I’m in this job, the tougher those conversations are when you have to talk to a player about waiving him,” Newsome said. “But I had a real good conversation with Lardarius … The door is not closed, because like I said, we need as many good football players as we can have.”

Jefferson’s tweet showed class and an awareness of what Webb meant to the Ravens after he was selected in the third round of the 2009 draft.

And giving up a coveted jersey number must not be easy for a man who clearly cares so much for his football look. Jefferson, who was the top safety on the market, said one of the contributing factors in signing with the Ravens was their uniforms.

Apparently, Jefferson used the video game “Madden” to see how he would look in various team colors.

"I am a guy of swagger, so I gotta check the swag at all points before I make a decision," Jefferson told NFL.com this week. "I put myself in different uniforms on Madden to see what will look better. Ravens did look good, though.

“Black on blacks, no question. Those [uniforms] are their best combination.”

Dennis Pitta’s Restructured Contract Numbers Finally Revealed

Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta is not only taking a pay cut for the 2017 season; he’ll also take one for 2018. That will make three consecutive years of reducing his salary after doing so last season too.

According to salary-cap guru Brian McFarland, here’s how the next two years break down:

2017: $5.5 million base salary ------> $2.5 million base salary
2018: $5.5 million base salary ------> $3 million base salary

Pitta’s “likely to be earned” incentives will be $500,000 this season, which means his new cap hit will be $5.2 million instead of the scheduled $7.7 million.  

The $2.5 million in cap savings “basically amounts to roughly the same savings as if he had been released,” McFarland tweeted.

That’s because the Ravens would have incurred $4.4 million in dead money by cutting Pitta, plus another $540,000 because of Rule of 51.

So, the difference between keeping and releasing Pitta for cap purposes is $260,000.

My bet is quarterback Joe Flacco would think that’s money well spent for his favorite target and the league’s receptions leader among tight ends last year.

Did Ravens Try To Retain Kamar Aiken?

The Ravens are officially down another receiver from 2016 after Kamar Aiken agreed to a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts Tuesday. It ends Aiken's stint with the Ravens after joining the practice squad midway through the 2013 season.

Aiken expressed his desire to find a new opportunity with another team, and it doesn’t appear the Ravens tried to stop him in that effort.

“The Ravens are thin on experienced receivers, but there’s no evidence that they were aggressively bidding to retain Aiken,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec.

Aiken got a glimpse of what he can accomplish when given the opportunity in 2015 when he became the No. 1 receiver as injuries took a toll on the unit. He led the team with 75 receptions for 944 yards and five touchdowns. But he went from 127 targets in 2015 to 50 last season.

Aiken posted a message to Ravens fans on Twitter, and some of his former teammates are happy that he’ll get a chance to prove himself again.

Ravens In Line For Two Comp Picks For 2018

After losing Aiken to the Colts, the Ravens are now in the plus-two column for compensatory picks.

“Baltimore should now qualify for two compensatory picks for the 2018 draft after losing five unrestricted free agents and signing three this offseason,” wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

Per McFarland, the Ravens could expect a third-rounder for right tackle Rick Wagner (Detroit Lions) and a seventh-rounder for either Aiken or guard Vladimir Ducasse (Buffalo Bills).

The other unrestricted signings and losses cancel each other out.

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