OWINGS MILLS — Oh, the trials and tribulations of being rich.
The good: You’re financially secure assuming you don’t blow your fortune.
The bad: Other people want a piece of what’s yours.
Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata has experienced the latter already after signing a lucrative $61 million contract with $40 million guaranteed over the next two seasons on Tuesday.
“Nobody asked me for a loan,” Ngata said. “They just asked me to give them money.”
Of course, this was in jest. But Ngata’s paycheck is substantial enough to make him the highest-paid non quarterback in the NFL for the next two seasons. He wasn’t sure what would happen Tuesday when talks picked up early in the morning before the NFL’s deadline to sign franchised players to new contracts.
Ngata came to the facility Tuesday morning to work out and then left. Then he drove back after his agent Mike McCartney called and asked him to. After talking things over, he left, only for general manager Ozzie Newsome to call and ask for him to return. While it was tiring for the hulking defensive tackle, Ngata remained hopeful something would happen.
And when it did, he was ecstatic.
“It was just a great moment,” he said.
Ngata has worked his way into being one of the NFL’s elite defensive players. In his career, Ngata’s posted 336 tackles, 12 sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. This season, he already has 10 tackles, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. Ngata was selected 12th overall by the Ravens in the 2006 NFL draft.
“He’s the most humble man you’ll ever meet,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “It’s really exciting to see him land that deal. He’s one of the guys that really deserves deals like that.”
Coach John Harbaugh was equally as giddy that the Ravens locked up a central piece to the defense for another five years.
“You can talk a lot about what positions are the ones that have the most value and those kinds of things,” Harbaugh said. “Not all the time are defensive tackles put in that category, although it has been more so in recent years because people realize how important it is. But it’s just so much more than that. The impact it has on our defense — the personality, the tone he sets — we can be a dominant defense in a lot of ways because he’s that presence in the middle. They always say you want to be strong up the middle and we’re pretty strong up the middle.”
Before the deal was done Tuesday, the word was that a contract wasn’t imminent. But now that the contract’s done and his franchise tag worth $12.476 million is void (something the Ravens don’t have to carry over in their salary cap), Ngata’s looking forward to playing out the season without his mind wondering about the business side of the game.
“Don’t my shoulders look a little higher?” Ngata said, with a smile. “It is a relief because I don’t have to worry about it throughout the season. (I don’t have to) worry about getting injured and worry about my performance. I can just go out there and play the game I want to play.”
By Jason Butt