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Ravens roster preview: Webb's contract looms large for CB group


Ravens roster preview: Webb's contract looms large for CB group

It's clear that coming off a 5-11 season, the Ravens have some tough decisions to make regarding their 2016 roster. To be sure, injuries were a huge part of the story this past season, but there figures to be significant roster turnover after one of the worst seasons in team history. And as always, the salary cap will have a major influence on how the Ravens go about constructing their 2016 roster.

Over the past two weeks, we have been examining each Ravens position group with an eye toward 2016. Who stays? Who goes? Today we look at the cornerbacks.

Note: For the purpose of this discussion, we will limit the roster to those players on the final 53-man roster and injured reserve. (Here's a rundown of free agency terminology.)

Under contract: Kyle Arrington, Will Davis, Jimmy Smith, Tray Walker, Lardarius Webb, Julian Wilson

Unrestricted free agents: Shareece Wright

Restricted free agents: None

Exclusive rights free agents: Jumal Rolle, Sheldon Price

The Ravens had major issues in the secondary for the second straight season and finished with just six interceptions -- the lowest total in the league and a new franchise record-low.

Adding a shutdown corner with superior playmaking and ball skills is high on the list of offseason priorities, and it will surprise no one if the Ravens go that route with their No. 6 overall pick in this year's draft.

It became clear during the season -- and coach John Harbaugh admitted as much -- that Lardarius Webb, now 30, simply doesn't have the tools any more to be an outside cornerback. Webb's future with the team will be one of the more interesting offseason storylines to watch.

At the "State of the Ravens" news conference, general manager Ozzie Newsome confirmed what was gradually apparent last season: Webb's future is at safety -- if anywhere.

Webb is set to earn $6 million this year and has a cap hit of $10 million -- which would be among the highest in the league among safeties and, as of now, is the second-highest on the team. His production simply does not match that cost, so something has to give.

Webb will probably need to take a pay cut. If he refuses and is released, the Ravens would be saddled with $6 million in dead money but would free up $4 million in cap space.

Either way, Webb is no longer viewed as a cornerback, meaning Jimmy Smith (54 tackles, team-high 3 INTs) will be returning at one corner, and the other starting corner spot is up in the air.

A plug-and-play, elite draft pick would be one option. Re-signing Shareece Wright might be another. Wright struggled mightily early with the Ravens -- he was torched by his former 49ers team in his Ravens debut -- but he steadily improved as the season went on and ultimately became the starter outside opposite Smith. He did not end up with any interceptions, but he finished with 40 tackles and five passes defensed, and the Ravens are expected to make a reasonable offer to keep him. Plus, he's a high school teammate and longtime friend of Jimmy Smith, so staying with the Ravens has a lot of appeal.

Kyle Arrington was increasingly phased out of action, even as a slot corner, and his future seems iffy at best. Cutting Arrington, 29, would clear about $1.4 million in cap space.

The Ravens have a lot of other younger, less proven options on the roster including last year's fourth-round draft pick Tray Walker. The Ravens admitted he was a project when they drafted him, but the fact that Walker hardly saw the field last year suggests the Ravens reached badly in drafting him when they did. The question now is whether the former Texas Southern player can start to show the potential the Ravens saw in him.

Will Davis is expected to return from a torn ACL and could be a factor as well. He has some promising moments before his season-ending injury.

One other subtext this year: The Ravens have a new secondary coach in Leslie Frazier. After last season's struggles, and with Webb moving to safety, Frazier has his work cut out for him, but he brings 17 years of NFL coaching experience to the room.

[RELATED: Will Pitta retire or return to Ravens in 2016?]


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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?