Late For Work 3/30: Lardarius Webb Reveals Why He Restructured Contract

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Webb Reveals Why He Restructured Contract

Contracts like the one Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb agreed to earlier this month are rare.

Sure, you hear of players restructuring contracts all the time, but not the way Webb reportedly did. A restructure typically shuffles money around, but the player ultimately gets the same amount (via a bonus and the team pushes some of the base salary and cap hit to future years).

Not Webby. He straight-up took a pay cut.

It seems unlikely the Ravens would have cut him had he not agreed, given it reportedly would have cost $12 million in dead money. And in a cornerback-hungry league, Webb would have had a good shot at finding a solid payday elsewhere despite his injury history.

So why did he do it?

The answer is three-fold: 1) he wants to retire a Raven 2) he wants to help the team have financial flexibility to bolster the roster and 3) he wants to prove his worth after three serious injuries.

"My goal is to retire a Raven, and while it wasn't an easy decision, I wanted to put the team first," Webb told The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson. "I wanted to prove myself this year that the Ravens sticking with me was the right decision. The Ravens reached out to my agent, Marc Lillibridge, a few weeks before the scouting combine and they were talking and working hard together to get something done. I'm glad it's done."

The 29-year-old cornerback said he hopes his restructure helps the Ravens gain more financial flexibility as they try to build a winning roster.

The same week he agreed to a new deal, the Ravens also signed former Houston Texans free safety Kendrick Lewis and re-signed defensive linemen Chris Canty, Lawrence Guy and Christo Bilukidi,* *and long snapper Morgan Cox. Other cuts and the Haloti Ngata trade also helped create cap room for additional moves, including re-signing Pro Bowl running back Justin Forsett.

"Doing the restructure, I'm glad it helps the team financially to make more moves to make the team better," Webb told The Sun. "It's not easy losing great players like Torrey Smith, Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee, but this happens every year. I trust Ozzie Newsome and the rest of the organization to do their jobs and put the pieces in place to make us a better team."

Webb reduced his total payout in 2015 from $8 million to $5.25 million (with a chance to recoup $750,000 in incentives), and reduced his base salary by $2.5 million in 2016 and by $3 million in 2017, according to multiple reports.

Per the updated records at Spotrac.com, the Ravens will save around $3 million against the cap in each of the final three years of Webb's contract.

2015 Cap Hit: $12 million -----> $9.25 million
2016 Cap Hit: $12 million -----> $9.5 million
2017 Cap Hit: $10.5 million -----> $7.5 million

Last season, Webb finished with 46 tackles and one interception in 13 games (11 starts0029. He was dealing with a nagging back injury for a chunk of the year, and started to show his true form as he got healthier toward the end of the season.

Webb has also overcome tearing ACLs in both of his knees in previous years.

"As far as the restructure, my goal is to prove my worth this year," he said. "I want to show I can be healthy and help the team get to the next level. … This is the first offseason I'm going into where I'm not coming off a major injury. I finished the season healthy.

"I'm excited to be healthy going into the offseason. Hopefully, that will carry into the season. There's nothing lingering with the back. I'm actually feeling pretty good."

Ravens Lost Key Players, But Marvin Lewis Has Seen This Movie Before

Wide receiver Torrey Smith? Gone.
Tight end Owen Daniels? Gone.
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata? Gone.
Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee? Gone.
Wide receiver/returner Jacoby Jones? Gone.
Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak? Gone.

You get the idea.

The Ravens have lost a handful of key starters this offseason, which on paper looks damaging to the team's chances of returning to the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years.

But AFC North rival and Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis has seen this movie before. The Ravens lose marquee players every year, yet they are still a thorn in Lewis' side. He's not about to sell them short this season either.

"Baltimore does it yearly and they have the plan for the next guy to step up and play," Lewis told The Baltimore Sun at the owners meetings last week.

Lewis believes the division as a whole will once again be one of the best in the league.

"I've always felt it's a very strong division," Lewis said. "I think it was evident last year with three of the four teams going to the playoffs and the fourth team very close in the Browns. Everybody in the division plays very physical football, so when you play our division, it's a slugfest all of the time. I think the teams are all built that way."

Texans Owner Calls Ed Reed 'Big Disappointment'

Texans Owner Bob McNair once pulled out all the stops in order to lure Ed Reed away from Baltimore, including a comfy ride on his plush private jet. Now McNair seems to regret ever signing the future Hall of Famer.

Reed was cut before the 2013 season finished, and now, two years later, McNair just singed another aging veteran, Vince Wilfork, for the same $5 million of guaranteed money. At the owners meetings, McNair was trying to convince Houston media that Wilfork (33) will not be another Reed (34 at the time of signing with Houston).

"I think the difference is when you have someone at a position where they have to be able to run, then age is more of a consideration," McNair told ESPN's Tania Ganguli. "We thought Ed was in good shape and was going to be able to come down and play and he was a big disappointment. At nose tackle, you don't have to run that much. He's got to be strong. So there's some positions you can play for more years and you aren't taking much of a risk."

ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio isn't buying the explanation. Reed needed hip surgery following the Ravens'* *Super Bowl season and didn't return to form after his recovery.

 "The biggest difference between Reed and Wilfork is that Reed was damaged goods when he signed with the Texans," wrote Florio. "The Texans didn't notice that Reed needed hip surgery when giving him a passing grade on his physical. So it's less embarrassing for the Texans to distinguish Reed and Wilfork based on the speed vs. strength of older players, and not to remind everyone that whoever gave Reed a clean bill of health in 2013 made a major mistake."

Reed hasn't officially retired from the NFL, and seems to be preparing for another shot in 2015. When he finally does retire, the Ravens will induct him into the Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium and he'll be a sure-fire Hall of Fame inductee.

"However, don't expect Reed to invite McNair to either ceremony," wrote CSNBaltimore.com's Clifton Brown.

Congratulations, Justin Tucker!

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker officially tied the knot with his fiancée Amanda Bass over the weekend.

Congratulations to the happy couple! And we can't wait to see more pictures!

Jimmy Smith Could Be Best CB On Market Next Year

Cornerback Jimmy Smith will be a very wanted man next offseason.

He's heading into the final year of his rookie contract, and ESPN's Field Yates already has Smith ranked as the 12th-best overall free agent in next year's class and the best at his position.

"Big and athletic, Smith is the best player in a Ravens secondary that dealt with numerous injury issues in 2014 (Smith included)," wrote Yates. "He's 6-2 and close to 210 pounds with the ability to play man coverage. Corners with that sort of size and ability are hard to find – just look at how much the Eagles paid to sign Byron Maxwell this offseason."

OK, let's look. The Eagles signed Maxwell to a reported six-year contract worth a whopping $63 million. Analysts say that will be the starting point in negotiations* *with Smith.

While that's a whooooole lot of money, Smith brings a whoooooole lot of good to the secondary. ESPN's Jamison Hensley doesn't see the Ravens letting him go.

"It's just hard to believe the Ravens will allow Smith to get to free agency in 11 months," Hensley wrote. "There are likely two options with Smith: The Ravens are either going to sign him to an extension or they're going to put the franchise tag on him. Smith, 26, is too valuable to let walk. 

"The Ravens were reminded of Smith's importance when he went down with a season-ending foot injury in the middle of the season. Without Smith, the Ravens were 5-4 the rest of the season and couldn't stop the New England Patriots' Tom Brady when it counted in a divisional playoff game. No team knows the value of Smith more than the Ravens."

Quick Hits

On this day in 1996, the @Ravens were officially named following a Baltimore Sun telephone poll. #ThanksArt — Brian Bower (@sportguyRSR) March 29, 2015

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