While there have been no real indication that nose tackle Haloti Ngata could be released anytime soon, his cap number says it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Ngata has been a cornerstone on defense for the Baltimore Ravens ever since he entered the league in 2006, but is due a $16 million cap hit to the team in 2014, according to Brian McFarland of russellstreetreport.com. One could argue that he added years to Ray Lewis‘ career. But could the Ravens start weighing the pros and cons of keep Ngata?
Just recently, I wrote an article on how outside linebacker Terrell Suggs could be on his way out next year. The Ravens have made it obvious that while they love the players that have been a mainstay for quite some time for the team, it’s a business and if the money does not fit the bill, they will be prepared to move on and move on quickly.
With Ngata’s case, I am of the belief that if the Ravens were to cut Ngata in the next two seasons, they are biting off more than they can chew.
In recent years, I have always been of the belief that Ngata was ultimately the most important player on the defense. Lewis and Ed Reed were obviously important. Their intelligence on the field can’t be denied, but they have gone through injuries in recent years and the Ravens proved that they could win without them. At the same time, they also had some quality depth with role players who fit the bill on defense and stayed disciplined.
That is not the case with Ngata on the defense line. The Ravens were able to survive those injuries, including Suggs, but I doubt they would survive the loss of Ngata missing any time.
Nose tackle Terrence Cody has not lived up to expectations as the second-round pick the Ravens coveted in the 2010 draft. Defensive end Pernell McPhee has been transitioning into a 3-4 end. Arthur Jones has shown flashes of good plays, but hasn’t been consistently able to hold down the fort.
Ngata is a walking double-team. And even though the Ravens just drafted nose tackle Brandon Williams in the third round, he came from a small school and the competition level against opposing offenses were most likely not as great as the top-tier division-I schools.
Not to mention that playing on the defensive line in a player’s first few seasons in the league is a steep learning curve, and adjustments and growing pains should be expected.
Ngata is a once-in-a-lifetime type player. He could very well cement his place in history one day, but the Ravens should consider his play on the field before money. If there is one player currently on the roster not named Joe Flacco that deserves to be owed at least $15 million a season, it’s Ngata.