The Baltimore Ravens announced on Tuesday that they elected to apply their franchise tag on DT Haloti Ngata, essentially putting their faith (and a lot of money) into one of the best lineman in the NFL.
This news doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, since head coach John Harbaugh and the rest of the Ravens front office made it painfully obvious they would try to secure Ngata after the team’s playoff run ended back in January.
“It’s really important,” Harbaugh said.
“I believe Haloti Ngata will be a Raven for life. That’s the goal. I know Haloti wants that. He told me that he wants to be here. I don’t want to speak for him, again, but I think he wants to be here, and I believe the organization wants him here.”
GM Ozzie Newsome echoed the same sentiment as Harbaugh.
“As we have said, our intention is to enter into a long-term contract with him. We want him to be a Raven,” Newsome said, referring to Ngata in a later press conference.
With the franchise tag applied, Ngata is set to make around $12.5 million next year, which is the average salary of the Ravens defensive line for the 2011 season.
However, even though the franchise tender secures Ngata in Baltimore for now, the star DT is free to negotiate with other teams thanks to the “non-exclusive” designation that’s on the current tender. If Ngata were to receive an offer from another team, the Ravens have the right to match that offer or collect two first-round draft picks if the five-year veteran signs with another team.
Both Manning and Vick are barred from talking to any other clubs as a result.
There are still several factors that can make it harder for Ngata to remain with the Ravens, most notably the CBA, which is set to expire March 4. If a new CBA can’t be negotiated before the cutoff date of March 4, the franchise designation will become null and void, allowing Ngata to roam free if he intends to do so.
The Oakland Raiders have expressed a fair amount of interest in Ngata and if the price tag is just right, Ngata might have a new home on the west coast next season.
This situation, although possible, is highly unlikely, given the amount of interest Ngata himself has articulated about remaining in Baltimore.
With the success Baltimore has had in the past franchising players, eventually handing big contracts to tagged athletes (Terrell Suggs in 2008 and 2009, and Chris McAlister in 2003 and 2004), the team should be able to hang onto Ngata without a problem.
So Raven Nation, rest easy. Ngata will remain a force to be reckoned with in Baltimore for many years to come—possibly finishing out his career with the Ravens.
What should be more concerning is whether we have an NFL season to enjoy next year.
Todd McGregor is a Baltimore Ravens Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.
Follow Todd's work on Twitter! Twitter.com/ravens023