Baltimore Ravens: Smart to Lock Up Lardarius Webb Long-Term

Aaron NaglerNFL National Lead WriterApril 5, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 20: Corner back Lardarius Webb #21 of the Baltimore Ravens tries to pull in a punt against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on November 20, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Lardarius Webb may not be a household name in NFL cities other than Baltimore, but he soon will be—and not because of the six-year, $50 million extension he just signed with the Ravens. Webb is quite possibly the most underrated cornerback in the NFL, and Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has wisely locked him up for the foreseeable future. 

Said Newsome in a statement:

Lardarius is an important player for the Ravens and we're very happy he will be with us for a long time. We have a good history of completing second contracts for targeted players we want to keep for the long haul.

Those, my friends, are the words of a man who gets it.

As I have said repeatedly, and will continue to say repeatedly until I'm blue in the face, the best way to build a team in today's NFL is by drafting and developing your own players. This process, in turn, also means identifying which guys you think represent the core of your team and locking them up prior to reaching the end of their rookie deal. In this instance, Webb was a restricted free agent this year and had received a first-round tender ($2.74 million).

Webb was originally drafted in the third round of the 2009 draft, and only became a starter at corner for the Ravens in last year's training camp after injuries forced him into the lineup. Webb made the most of his chance, becoming the fourth-highest graded cornerback in the entire league, according to Pro Football Focus

In the modern game, you simply cannot have enough quality cornerbacks, and it is becoming close to requisite to have two if not three starting-caliber corners on your roster to keep up with the multi-reciever formations that have become so prevalent in today's game. By locking up Webb to team with last year's first round pick Jimmy Smith, the Ravens seem in prime position to continue their dominance on the defensive side of the ball for years to come.