On Tuesday the Detroit Lions traded for Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata with the hope of filling a gap left by Ndamukong Suh. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was in Ann Arbor today to speak to the University of Michigan football team and while he was there he gave his stamp of approval on Ngata.
Harbaugh had the opportunity to coach Ngata for the past eight seasons with the Ravens and has nothing but good things to say about the five time All-Pro.
“I wanted to keep him,” said Harbaugh, “I thought that would happen, I thought we’d be able to come to something that worked for both of us financially, but we were unable to do that. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Haloti and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Some critics feel the Lions got played by the Ravens since Ngata is 31-years-old and they claim his best days are behind him. Harbaugh disagrees and believes the 340 pound lineman still has what it takes to make some noise on the defensive side of the ball.
“He’s a great football player — he’s a run stuffer,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a quality guy who still has plenty left.”
Though Harbaugh would have liked to keep Ngata for another year, he sure is excited about one thing.
“We are happy he’s in the NFC and not the AFC.” He said.
The question still remains, do the Lions plan on using Ngata as a rental since he only has one year remaining on his contract, or will they try to work out an extension with him? Ngata said earlier in the week that he is very open to signing and extension with the Lions and he believes he has at least three solid years left as a professional.
The Lions management, including Martin Mayhew, have been in hiding since Suh signed with the Miami Dolphins and have not been available to answer any questions whatsoever about what went down or about their plans moving forward. This includes commenting about the possibility of signing Ngata to an extension.
It is also unknown how much money Ngata and his agent would demand in order to get an extension done. The main reason the Ravens traded him is because he refused to take a pay cut and it would have cost the team $16 million in cap space to keep him. Does this mean that he will play hardball with the Lions too?
Time will tell what the Lions decide to do with Ngata contract wise, but in the mean time fans across the State of Michigan are in for a treat. They will get a chance to watch one of the best defensive lineman in football over the past eight years or so up close and personal.
Photo by Keith Allison