Sep 28, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (92) smiles during the game against the Carolina Panthers at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way – Haloti Ngata is one of the greatest players in Baltimore Ravens history. He has been a great player for a very long time, and his loss doesn’t necessarily make the Ravens a better team. But regardless, the manner of his departure is more proof that Ozzie Newsome is one of the very best general managers in the NFL.
Ngata was dominant at times in 2014, returning to his old self after a down 2013 season. He graded out as the 9th best 3-4 defensive end/tackle in the NFL by Pro Football Focus and was consistently a dominant force along the Ravens’ defensive front. Ngata generated consistent penetration and was incredibly disruptive when he was on the field.
Then, stunningly, Haloti Ngata was suspended for the final four games of the regular season after violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy. Ngata admitted to taking Adderall to help him deal with the rigors of the NFL season and having young children at home. Many questions, understandably, surrounded the timing of his drug use and the sudden rebound of his career.
Meanwhile, nose tackle Brandon Williams and rookie tackle Timmy Jernigan both emerged as future stars, both alongside Ngata and in his four game absence. Combine their emergence with Ngata’s refusal to rework his $16 million dollar deal, which included over $8 million guaranteed, and you have a recipe for a marital split. The Ravens were so tight against the cap that even Terrell Suggs agreed to renegotiate his contact to free up $2.25 million in space.
So Ozzie did what great GM’s do – he found a team desperate for a player who is nearing the twilight of his career that would surrender compensation for him. The Ravens collected a 4th and 5th round pick in exchange for Ngata and a 7th round pick. Not too shabby for a guy who was likely to get cut anyway, which would have netted the Ravens nothing in return. And they moved him to the NFC, where they wisely won’t have to see him in competition.
Now the Ravens have a little cap room to go after a free agent if they so choose, whether that be a wide receiver or a cornerback. For a team that went 3-1 without Ngata last year, we’d say that’s a stroke of genius by a guy who has a long history of making them.
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