The Ravens and Haloti Ngata shared the desire for the dominating defensive tackle to remain “a Raven for life” despite contract negotiations dragging at a snail’s pace following the end of the lockout in late July.
The sides have taken a gigantic step in making that wish a reality after Ngata agreed to a new five-year contract roughly an hour before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline for negotiating multi-year contracts with franchise players. The agreement was announced by his agent Mike McCartney.
The five-year deal is reportedly worth $61 million, with $40 million guaranteed over the first two years of the contract that runs through 2015, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“It just feels awesome,” Ngata said to the Ravens’ official website. “I won’t have to worry about my family, my kids, with money problems. Hopefully, I can continue to do well for the Ravens now, and it’s a good deal for them.”
Along with linebacker Terrell Suggs, Ngata has emerged as a dominating force on a Baltimore defense with future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed in the latter stages of their respective careers. Last season was a career year for the 330-pounder after he posted 5 1/2 sacks while earning his second trip to the Pro Bowl and a first-team All-Pro selection.
The announcement now allows general manager Ozzie Newsome to shift his attention to running back Ray Rice and left guard Ben Grubbs — both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents following the season — as well as quarterback Joe Flacco, who has expressed desire for a new contract prior to hitting free agency following the 2012 season. Ngata had been given a $12.476 million franchise tender in February, and the Ravens would not have been able to negotiate a long-term contract with the 27-year-old until after the season had Tuesday’s deadline passed without an agreement.
Selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2006 draft, Ngata has missed only two games in his six-year career while anchoring the defensive line and showing tremendous athleticism for a man of such large stature. The former Oregon product started all 16 games of his rookie season for a defense that ranked first overall in 2006.
The Ravens have allowed a league-low 32 rushing touchdowns and the third-fewest rushing yards per game (84.4) since Ngata’s rookie season.
“He is obviously instrumental to everything we do on defense,” Newsome said in an official statement. “He’s a player who commands an offense’s attention every single play, and his presence allows us to play a variety of effective defenses. Teams have to prepare for Haloti every week. Opposing coaches game-plan on Tuesday with Haloti in mind. They know he can dominate, and they know he is going to play at a very high level.”
Ngata is regarded as one of the best defensive linemen in the league and will now be paid as one of the game’s ultra elite. And while it’s not set in stone in the ever-changing nature of the NFL, the big defensive tackle may have the chance to finish his career with the Ravens.
“You hardly see that around the league, when a guy plays for one team,” Ngata said. “For me to be here another five years is great. Hopefully, I can be here and retire here.”