Webb On Ngata: Am I Next?
Cornerback Lardarius Webb admitted he was utterly shocked to get the news that the Ravens had traded Haloti Ngata to the Detroit Lions last week.
While his mind raced about how the move would affect the team, he also couldn't help but internalize the news and wonder how it would impact his own situation. Like Ngata, Webb was reportedly in the middle of contract negotiations with Ravens' brain trust that would, in part, reduce their 2015 cap hits.
If the Ravens would cut ties with an iconic Raven like Ngata because of stalled talks, what would be Webb's fate?
"Am I next?" Webb recalled thinking as he spoke with The Baltimore Sun's Jon Meoli during an Ed Block Courage Awards (see video above) event Monday morning. "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. 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."
Ngata was scheduled to make the biggest dent in the cap at $16 million, while Webb was No. 3 on the list with a $12 million cap hit ($8 million base salary). With Ngata gone, Webb moves into the No. 2 spot behind quarterback Joe Flacco.
Webb made it clear that that his situation was different than Ngata's, and told Meoli that he hasn't been informed of any change in his status.
"I wasn't going through what he was going through. He was going through that," Webb said. "I haven't heard anything, but I want to be a Raven."
Last week, The Sun's Aaron Wilson reported after the Ngata trade that active talks with Webb 's camp halted, noting the seven-year veteran might end up playing under his current contract in 2015.
"The Ravens were inching toward a contract extension for Webb at one point, but momentum stalled," Wilson wrote last week. "At this point, the Ravens don't need to restructure Webb's contract to be in compliance with the salary cap or to have enough space for their rookie pool to sign draft picks. This financial situation could always be revisited, but has gone quiet for now."
"Cutting Webb would create just $2 million in immediate cap space, which gives him some leverage in contract talks," added ProFootballTalk.com's Josh Alper.
There are plenty of fans crying for Webb to take a pay cut, but Meoli doesn't see the logic behind that from Webb's point of view.
Top Remaining Wide Receivers On Market
The wide receiver and cornerback market continues to dwindle, leaving the Ravens with fewer but cheaper options to bolster their roster.
Baltimore had interest in cornerback Tramon Williams, according to Wilson, but he signed a three-year deal with the Cleveland Browns Monday reportedly worth $21 million. Wilson said the Ravens weren't going to come anywhere close to $7 million a year. Meanwhile, another receiver was plucked from the market as Cecil Shorts signed with the Texans on a reported two year, $6 million deal.
Below are the top receivers still available (for now), per ESPN's Jamison Hensley:
- Michael Crabtree (49er): "Clearly" best WR remaining; value dipping longer he goes unsigned
- Dwayne Bowe (Chiefs): Visit with Browns went "very well" on Saturday, per Adam Caplan
- Stevie Johnson (49ers): Reportedly choosing between Chargers and Patriots, per PFT
- Greg Jennings (Vikings): Vikings cap casualty; effective receiver but "no longer" a No. 1
- Denarius Moore (Raiders): Could replace Torrey Smith's speed, but only caught 10 passes last season
- Hakeem Nicks (Colts): Production drop-off continued last season, but at 27 could turn around his career
- Mike Williams (Bills): Big red-zone target; only 30 catches in 2014
- Nate Washington (Titans): Nine-year veteran, averaged 16 yards per catch last three seasons
- Miles Austin (Browns): Possession receiver; placed on injured reserve after 12 games
Torrey: Ravens Receivers 'Perfectly Fine'If the list above doesn't get you excited, maybe Torrey Smith's opinion that the Ravens receivers corps is just fine will help. Eh?
After signing with the San Francisco 49ers last week, Smith doesn't necessarily think the team needs to bring in new blood to replace his speed and production (49 catches, 767 yards, 11 touchdowns last season).
"Their receivers are fine," Smith told Zrebiec last week. "They are perfectly fine. You can never stop adding to your arsenal, but they are very talented guys. I'm glad they are going to get their shot."
Zrebiec specifically pointed out that Smith was answering a question, and not just offering his two cents. Smith "sees the logic" of drafting another big and speedy receiver for Flacco.
"Smith's response was also predictable," wrote Zrebiec. "The Ravens' receivers were a close-knit group last season and the new San Francisco 49er would obviously love to see a couple of his former teammates get more opportunities and bigger roles.
"With their failure to address the position through the first week of free agency, the Ravens either agree with Smith, or they've found the price of the available wide receivers much too prohibitive. It's probably a combination of both."