Ravens place tenders on restricted free agents Webb, C. Williams, Ellerbe

March 12, 2012 | Luke Jones

(Updated: 8:55 p.m.)

With free agency set to begin at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the Ravens have tendered contracts to restricted free-agent cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams.

As anticipated, Webb will receive a first-round tender at a rate of approximately $2.74 million in an effort to keep the fourth-year cornerback in Baltimore for the 2012 season while a long-term extension is explored. Two years removed from a torn ACL suffered late in his rookie season, Webb had a team-high five interceptions during the regular season and grabbed three more in the Ravens’ two playoff games.

Williams will receive the second-round tender, which would pay him approximately $1.92 million for the 2012 season. Arguably the biggest surprise of the 2011 season, the former Tennessee Titans practice squad member started all 16 games at cornerback and recorded 77 tackles and 18 pass breakups.

Under the rules of restricted free agency, other teams may negotiate with each player and sign either to an offer sheet. However, the Ravens would then have one week to match the offer or to refuse and receive the corresponding draft pick matched with the tender originally offered to the player.

Much speculation persists that the New England Patriots, who own two first-round picks, could pursue Webb in free agency, but Monday’s move guarantees the Ravens would receive a first-round pick if they would choose not to match any potential offer made to the starting cornerback.

According to the Carroll County Times, the Ravens have also placed a second-round tender on linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and have elected not to tender oft-injured running back Matt Lawrence, who spent the last two seasons on injured reserve.