A day after general manager Ozzie Newsome confirmed they were negotiating a long-term extension, the Ravens announced they have agreed to a six-year, $50 million contract with cornerback Lardarius Webb.
The fourth-year defensive back was a restricted free agent set to receive the first-round tender ($2.74 million) for the 2012 season before the two sides completed a contract to keep the former Nicholls State product in Baltimore beyond next year.
The deal reportedly includes a $10 million signing bonus and $20 million guaranteed.
A third-round pick in the 2009 draft, Webb emerged as the Ravens’ top cornerback in his first year as a full-time starter. He led the team with five interceptions and added three more in the postseason in 2011.
The 26-year-old also did not allow a touchdown pass as opposing quarterbacks held a 55.6 quarterback rating when throwing against him.
“Lardarius is an important player for the Ravens, and we’re very happy he will be with us for a long time,” Newsome told the team’s official site.
Webb also served as the primary punt returner last season, though coach John Harbaugh said on Wednesday that the Ravens would prefer to use a backup in that role in a perfect world. Webb returned a punt for a touchdown in a win at Cleveland in early December.
The Ravens entered the 2011 season with uncertainty at the cornerback position before Webb and Cary Williams emerged as starters to contribute the fourth-ranked pass defense in the NFL. Their play relegated 2011 first-round pick Jimmy Smith to nickel duty in his rookie season, though he’s expected to compete with Williams for the Ravens’ other starting spot this summer.
Speculation persisted earlier this offseason that other teams might pursue Webb as a restricted free agent and be willing to surrender a first-round pick to Baltimore in order to sign him, but Thursday’s announcement removes any doubt about Webb’s future with the Ravens.
Newsome confirmed on Wednesday that the team was also in negotiations with Williams, who shares the same representation as Webb.