OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens narrowly beat the NFL deadline Tuesday afternoon by locking up franchise defensive tackle Haloti Ngata with a five-year, $61 million contract that included a $25 million signing bonus after restarting stalled talks.
The All-Pro defensive tackle is one of the most dominant defensive players in the game, and the destructive interior force will be paid $40 million in guaranteed money in the first two years in a deal hammered out roughly an hour before a deadline to sign franchise players during the season. That’s superior to all non-quarterback deals for the first two years of a contract, and exceeds all annual defensive line compensation at the start of a deal.
The 6-foot-4, 330-pounder is due a $10 million option bonus next year..
“This is a great feeling, and I can’t explain how many different emotions I have,” Ngata said. “What I want to do now is continue to get better every year and help the team get better. Our goal is to win Super Bowls, and I want to do my best to help us make that happen.
“You rarely see players around the league play with one team their entire career. For me to be here another five years is great, and I’m thankful for the opportunity the Ravens have provided me. Hopefully, I can retire here.”
The deal allows the Ravens to not have to carry a fully-guaranteed $12.476 million franchise tender for Ngata, 27, against the salary cap this season. He'll now be paid a $2 million base salary this year.
“[Agent] Deryk (Gilmore) and I are thrilled for Haloti and his wife Christina,” agent Mike McCartney told the Times. “He is well deserving of this contract and we look forward to Haloti continuing to dominate for the Ravens defense.”
The deal keeps Ngata in Baltimore on a long-term basis, sets him up for another free agency payday in the future and grants Baltimore some salary-cap space for potential future deals for core players like quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Ray Rice and offensive guard Ben Grubbs.
Ngata boosted his cause for a new contract by steamrolling the Pittsburgh Steelers to open the season with four tackles, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble when he decked running back Rashard Mendenhall and deflecting a pass for an interception.
“Haloti is one of the best players in football,” Gilmore said. “He's being paid like that. He's everything that a team or a company would want to represent them. I'm just happy that Haloti and his family have a chance to be financially secure for life.”
At 6-foot-4, 330 pounds, Ngata is a former rugby player who combines power and bulk with unusual speed and quickness.
Already this season, Ngata has 10 tackles, six solos, two pass deflections that have been intercepted by teammates, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
“This is another commitment from Steve Bisciotti making sure we keep our best players,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “Haloti’s re-signing is significant as we push to win consistently and battle for championships. His leadership is not only integral to our defense, but also the entire team.”
The Ravens drafted Ngata with the12th overall pick of the 2006 NFL draft after they traded their sixth-round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns to move up one spot in the first round.
For his career, Ngata has recorded 338 tackles, a dozen sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. In the playoffs, Ngata has 30 tackles and 2 ½ sacks.
In a loss to the Tennessee Titans, Ngata recorded six tackles and deflected a pass to outside linebacker Terrell Suggs for an interception.
Since Ngata joined the team, the Ravens have allowed a league-low 32 rushing touchdowns and the third-fewest rushing yards per game with an 84.4 average.
“He is obviously instrumental to everything we do on defense,” Newsome said. “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.”