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Lardarius Webb: A Raven for Life?

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Emerging star defensive back, Lardarius Webb, had his breakout season this year and people are taking notice. I guess notching 8 interceptions and not allowing a single touchdown on the year will do that. Webb, seemingly cementing himself as a new cornerstone of the Baltimore Ravens’ vaunted defense, took to Twitter to express his desire to be a Raven for life:

@LWebb21: Good Morning Twitter. Just in case anyone is wondering, I wanna be a Raven for life! #getdatring.

I think it’s safe to say most Ravens fans want Webb to be a Raven for life too. He was by far the best defensive back for the Ravens this season, as well as one of the best in the entire NFL. With this only being his 3rd season, it’s quite possible that Webb is just getting started.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as handing Webb a duffle bag full of cash and both sides walking away with big smiles on their faces. Teams have to negotiate through the new Collective Bargaining Agreement this off-season, and the Ravens have several key players who are looking for their big pay-days, such as: Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, and Ben Grubbs.

After the "Jump", see what Ravens General Manager, Ozzie Newsome, said about wanting to keep Webb in a Ravens uniform.

Webb is a restricted free agent come March 13th. To avoid another team plucking Webb away from the Ravens, the Ravens’ front office will have to place a high enough tender on him to deter any suitors from a bidding war. Not to mention, if a team were to out-bid the Ravens, that team would also have to part with draft pick(s) to snag Webb away. Here is how Ozzie Newsome feels about the scenarios surrounding Webb:

Ozzie on the idea of extending Webb’s contract this off-season:

"Is that something that we would entertain? Yes. I think it would be best for this organization. The sooner you strike, the better deal you can get for yourself."

Ozzie on how difficult it will be for a team that’s interested in Webb to snag him away from the Ravens:

"This league covets draft picks. And so, in order to go after a restricted guy, No. 1, you have to give a number now that’s something that we won’t match as a team. And then you’ve got to also give up a significant draft choice, because we would put some numbers on there that would make it prohibitive for people. When you deal with that double-whammy, even though the rules have been relaxed, you just go, ‘Nah, no, I wouldn’t do it.’ That’s just my philosophy."

So, Webb wants to be a Raven, Ozzie wants Webb to be a Raven, and the fans want to see #21 in the secondary for as long as possible too. So now the question becomes, does Webb deserve a contract extension?

Based off of Webb’s performance this season as the Ravens best defensive back, yes, Webb deserves an extension. However, it should be noted that up until this year, Webb has struggled at times. During his rookie year, Webb suffered a torn ACL, and it was clear last season that the injury was still lingering and that he was feeling the effects. Despite his early struggles, at this time it seems as though he is much too valuable to the Ravens for them to let him walk away. As the clear #1 cornerback heading into next season, along with his ability to return punts effectively, it could be devastating for the Ravens to let Webb slip away. After having a defensive backfield that has struggled in recent years, with Webb stepping up this season the Ravens finished: 4th overall in passing yards per game allowed (196.2 average) and 3rd overall in points allowed per game (16.6 average).

Although it’s unlikely that a team will snatch Webb away, hopefully the Ravens do enough to prevent it from even getting close to that. With a young secondary consisting Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, and Cary Williams, the Ravens have a lot to look forward to with this group of defensive backs. Looking at this group now, with time to work together and perfect their craft, the Ravens could be shaping up to have one of the best secondary units in the NFL.