On the same day NFL teams could begin negotiating with other unrestricted free agents, the Ravens retained one of their own by re-signing offensive lineman James Hurst to a four-year contract.
The deal is worth $17.5 million with $8 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network. Hurst, 26, started 15 games at left guard last season as well as one at left tackle filling in for the injured Ronnie Stanley. The former undrafted free agent from North Carolina has struggled at both offensive tackle spots in the past, but he found a home inside while filling in for injured left guard Alex Lewis, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in training camp.
Many assumed the 6-foot-5, 317-pound Hurst would find a better contract elsewhere this offseason, but the Ravens clearly value his versatility and view him as a starting-caliber player with that type of a financial commitment. What that means for Lewis and the rest of the offensive line remains to be seen as starting center Ryan Jensen will hit the market this week as an unrestricted free agent.
“This is good news for our football team,” head coach John Harbaugh said in a statement released by the team. “James is a reliable, tough, and versatile player who has played a lot of football for us. He has started at both tackle and guard, and all he has been is productive and someone who has made us better.”
Pro Football Focus graded Hurst 55th among qualified guards last season while Bleacher Report’s NFL1000 rankings listed him 49th among guards. He has never missed a game in his four-year career and has started 32 regular-season games as well as two postseason contests.
Reserve defensive back Lardarius Webb announced his departure via his verified Twitter account Monday as Baltimore has cut the longtime Raven for the second straight year. The 2009 third-round pick eventually re-signed with the Ravens at a cheaper rate last year and would begin the season as the primary nickel corner, but his role diminished as the year progressed and he was replaced by second-year corner Maurice Canady in many sub packages.
Thank you Baltimore it’s been a great run. #StillChasinGreatness
— Lardarius Webb (@LWebb21) March 12, 2018
Webb was scheduled to make $2.15 million in base salary in 2018, but his release will save the Ravens $1.75 million in cap space. The Nicholls State product appeared in 127 games in his nine-year run with the Ravens, collecting 15 interceptions, 467 tackles, 91 pass breakups, and 3 forced fumbles.
Baltimore entered Monday with just $4.878 million in salary cap space, according to the NFL Players Association. Teams must be in compliance with the salary cap by 4 p.m. Wednesday when the free-agent signing period officially begins.