Sunday, March 28, 2010

Haloti Ngata: Raven For Life?

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has made it clear that defensive tackle Haloti Ngata will be next in line for a big pay-day.

It's been assumed for a couple of years now that the Ravens are interested in locking up Ngata to a long-term deal, but Harbaugh's comments finally confirm those thoughts.

Ngata is considered one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL because of his ability to clog up the middle and take on blockers.

His work up front allows the linebackers, especially Ray Lewis, to run free from sideline to sideline and make tackles. It also frees up fellow lineman to get blocked one-on-one and have a better chance at getting to the quarterback.

The team does hope that Ngata will develop into a better pass rusher, an area that fans and media alike have criticized the athletic defensive tackle.

It will be interesting to see if the process of signing Ngata to a long-term deal becomes as muddled as that of Terrell Suggs, the last Ravens player to get a big deal.

Suggs was hit with the franchise tag two years in a row before the Ravens were finally able to hammer out a deal with the pass rusher just before the deadline to sign extensions.

Some of the problems with Suggs' negotiations was the concern that he hadn't yet blossomed into one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. There were also maturity concerns about the playful Suggs, and both issues made the team reluctant to fork over a huge deal.

The same concerns really don't exist with Ngata, and Vince Wilfork's recent contract extension will likely serve as a good guide for the Ravens and their Pro Bowler when it comes time to get a deal done.

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