Although the Baltimore Ravens placed a first-round tender on CB Lardarius Webb, it does not mean that he is guaranteed to return to the team in 2012. The tender means that not only must the Ravens pay Webb a bit under $3 million next season, but any team that wants to try to sign him must surrender a first round draft pick to Baltimore.
In addition, the Ravens have the right to match any offer a team makes to Webb, which will keep him in a purple uniform next year and beyond. This usually makes it an unlikely event that a tendered player is targeted by another team and gives the player's team the time it needs to work out a long term deal to guarantee his status on their roster.
However, the New England Patriots have the 31st pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft and the chance to in effect "trade" it to the Ravens for one of the best up-and-coming young cornerbacks in the league is not a far-fetched idea. Webb is certainly better than any other defensive back that the Patriots could select in this draft class and he definitely made a lasting impression on New England as he picked off Tom Brady in the AFC Championship Game this past January.
The Ravens would have the right, as mentioned earlier, to match any Patriots offer to Webb and still retain his rights, but if New England's offer is such that it could significantly affect Baltimore's salary cap status, the team might not have a choice but to let him leave. This would be a very frustrating loss and while it is not a typical move in the league, it is one worth mentioning and fearing, since Webb proved last year that he might shortly be one of the better corners in the league and pairing him with second year pro Jimmy Smith, gives the Ravens a solid combination in the secondary.
Losing Webb would most likely mean the Ravens would have a starting duo of Smith and Cary Williams at cornerback. Of course, with Williams receiving a second-round tender, he could also be a target of many teams as well, although the chances of losing two tendered players is rare. Either way, if the team had to decide which player to lose through this maneuver, there is no doubt they much prefer to retain Webb and would be willing to accept another team's second round pick in exchange for losing Williams.
Hopefully, neither will happen and the Ravens secondary will remain intact and be one of their most solid positions on their defense again in 2012.