ITEM: Ravens sign RFA Lardarius Webb
He began this free agency period as one of the premier restricted free agents on the market. Lardarius Webb might not have gotten an offer sheet from another team, but he did get a contract from the Baltimore Ravens for a reported $50 million total, with a $10 million signing bonus and more than $20 million guaranteed, according to the NFL Network's Jason La Canfora.
"Lardarius is an important player for the Ravens, and we're very happy he will be with us for a long time," General Manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We have a good history of completing second contracts for targeted players we want to keep for the long haul. We did that recently with Jameel McClain, just like we did with Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson, Marshal Yanda – and many more through the years."
The 2011 season was Webb's first as a full-time starter, and he led the Ravens with five interceptions and 20 passes defensed. He added three more interceptions in the playoffs and contributed as a punt returner.
With Webb, and with the team having spent a No. 1 pick on CB Jimmy Smith last April, and with the emergence of CB Cary Williams, it came as no surprise that the team released CB Chris Carr earlier in the offseason. Just last week, Carr and the Minnesota Vikings agreed to a one-year deal, according to La Canfora.
Carr started all 16 games for the Ravens in 2010, but he lost that job last season while being hampered with hamstring and back injuries. Carr had been due a $2.5 million base salary and carried a $3.45 million salary-cap figure before being released by the Ravens.
In a story written by Sarah Ellison on Ravens.com, Ed Reed seemed to suggest some dissatisfaction with his contract situation. Reed did say that he plans on playing football in 2012 but that plans tend to change.
"I got some unfinished business," Reed said during an appearance on 105.7 The Fan's Glenn Younes Show. "I got a lot on my mind I've been thinking about. The truth of the matter is, it's about respect. It's about getting respect and it's a business."
During the same interview, Reed confirmed that he tried to renegotiate his contract with the Ravens last year, but "took the back seat" in those negotiations when they didn't go down the way he expected.
"My plan when I went to negotiate was always, it's always to help the team. I was not trying to break the bank. Do I deserve a good substantial amount? I mean you look at Peyton (Manning, Broncos quarterback). Peyton got five (years) for $96 (million)? I know I'm not a quarterback, but at the end of the day …
"They pay certain positions certain ways. I'm different, man."
Red is entering the final year of his reported six-year, $44.4 million contract, and as such is scheduled to make $7.2 million for the 2012 season.
"Honestly, I got to take a look at myself from the outside in," Reed said. "For what I offer on the football field, for what I give on the football field and for what they know they're going to get, it's much more than these young guys out here today and what they're getting. And I'm talking about at any defensive back position right now."
More from Reed: "I've been dealing with some stuff personally with some certain comments from people who I work with, whether they know it or not, they made them. But they made them and they don't … whether you think I'm a business-minded man or don't listen to you, I do. It's not bad, but it's something that you take to heart because at the end of the day, I know I'm giving everything and they know I'm giving everything on that football field."
And: "When I'm on the football field, I'm giving you everything," Reed said. "Do the Ravens know that? Yes they do. Did Ozzie (Newsome) know that Ed Reed was going to be playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers regardless of negotiating his contract? Yes he did. Did Ed Reed get the respect that he deserves? No he did not. Am I gonna get it? Probably won't. Hopefully he do. If I don't, then, hey man, I'm all right with me."
Earlier in this offseason, the Ravens re-signed Matt Birk, their unrestricted free agent center, but now that former Ravens center Jason Brown is currently a free agent, La Canfora believes his return to Baltimore is "not out of the question."
After being drafted by the Ravens in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL draft, Brown became a three-year starter. He then left for a big money contract with the St. Louis Rams in 2009.
ITEM: Bengals add Bell, cut Crocker
Having lost starting guard Nate Livings earlier in free agency, the Cincinnati Bengals made a move to plug the hole by signing Jacob Bell, formerly of the Rams, to a one-year deal, according to Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal.
The Bengals also released safety Chris Crocker, who was with the team for the past four seasons.
Crocker, 32, was one of seven players to start every game last season and led the secondary in sacks with 3.5. He also had 74 tackles four passes defensed, and a forced fumble. Of the 1,066 defensive snaps last season, Crocker played in 1,019.
Crocker said he knew this move was coming for a couple weeks.
"I know as a player I feel a certain way but not everybody in the building felt the same way," Crocker said. "This was one of the best stops of my career. I got to go to the playoffs two of my three full seasons here."
The leading candidate to take Crocker's spot is Taylor Mays, who was acquired from San Francisco last year. Mays missed seven games, including the playoffs, due to injuries.
ITEM: 2 more possible No. 1 picks visit Browns
South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore, Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin and Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner are among the draft prospects who visited the Browns last week, according to the Beacon Journal.
Gilmore and Martin have been identified as potential No. 1 picks and Wagner as a No. 2. The Browns have two first-round picks (Nos. 4 and 22) to go along with an early second-round choice (No. 37).
The 6-foot, 190-pound Gilmore started 39 games for South Carolina over three seasons and intercepted eight passes during that span. He had 46 tackles, seven passes defensed and four interceptions last season.
Martin, 6-foot-5, 312, was Stanford's starting left tackle in 37 games over his career, and in 2011 he was named first-team All-Pac-12 for the second consecutive year. Martin could be a logical pick, because the team needs a starting right tackle after cutting Tony Pashos.
Wagner, 6-0, 241, played both OLB and MLB and led the Western Athletic Conference in tackles three seasons in a row. Last season, he had 147 tackles, 11.5 for loss, four sacks and two interceptions.
The Browns ranked 30th against the run (147.4 yards allowed per game) last season.
Wagner missed the NFL Scouting Combine in February and Utah State's first Pro Day because of pneumonia. But in late March, he performed well during another Pro Day at Utah State, with times of 4.46 and 4.47 seconds in the 40-yard dash and 24 repetitions in the bench press.