'No Guarantee' Haloti Ngata Will Be Back Next Year
There are "no guarantees" that Haloti Ngata will be back in Baltimore next season, says ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
And if the Ravens can't overcome his four-game suspension for breaking the league's PEDs policy and make the playoffs, Ngata "may never be seen in a Ravens uniform again."
The nine-year veteran and Ravens front office executives were expected to enter contract extension negotiations after the season. The prevailing thought was that a new contract would lower Ngata's reported $16 million cap figure for 2015, but extend his time in Baltimore so that he could eventually retire a Raven.
Ngata needed a big 2014 in order to either prove he was worth the $16 million or get a healthy contract extension. He was playing so well that it seemed he would have considerable leverage in upcoming negotiations.
"He put himself above the team," Hensley wrote.
"It looked as if Ngata would force the Ravens to pay him the final year of his contract by having one of his best seasons in recent memory. But the Ravens have to question how much Adderall [affected] his turnaround season."
If the Ravens advance to the postseason, it would mean they withstood his absence and it could influence their decision in the offseason. They could choose to cut him, which would free up $8.5 million, but it would also leave $7.5 million in dead money.
In the video above, you see that Ngata's violation of the NFL's PEDs policy "shocked" his teammates. The reaction wasn't too much different for executives inside the organization, according to reports.
The decision to keep Ngata was already tricky given his age (he turns 31 in January), injury history and large cap number. This incident only complicates things.
That said, it doesn't mean they've given up on Ngata.
"The Ravens were expected to try to negotiate an extension after the season that would allow Ngata to finish his career in Baltimore," wrote Wilson. "That could still happen, according to a source. The leverage in negotiations after this NFL discipline at the most inopportune time obviously has tilted toward the Ravens."
The suspension will cost Ngata $2 million against the cap and in cash, per Wilson, which is the amount Ngata would have earned from his base salary in these final four games. It will also almost assuredly cost him a trip to the Pro Bowl.
If Ngata doesn't return to Baltimore next year, it won't be hard for a five-time Pro Bowler, five-time All-Pro and Super Bowl Champion to find work elsewhere.
But this incident will always cast a shadow.
"For nearly nine years, Ngata worked hard to become the most dominating defensive lineman in Ravens history," Hensley wrote. "Now, one mistake, no matter how out of character, can tarnish how his legacy is viewed."
Ngata Won't Appeal, Wants To Take Punishment
Bring on the punishment.
Ngata owns his mistake, he will take the consequences, and he won't appeal the league's four-game suspension.
"Rather than appeal the suspension after hearing from the NFL, Ngata accepted it and decided to take his punishment right away," wrote Wilson. "Per [a] source, Ngata's reaction when he got the disciplinary letter from the NFL was, 'I'm guilty and I deserve to be punished.' Haloti wanted to get it over with, take his punishment and try to get back for the playoffs.
"One reason that Ngata was taking Adderall, per a source, was to deal with a lack of sleep due to staying up with his children."
Ngata is returning to his home state of Utah to train and keep in shape during his suspension in case the Ravens advance to the postseason. He is eligible to return starting Dec. 29.
Torrey Not Practicing, But Says He'll Play
Wide receiver Torrey Smith has never missed a game in his four-year career (60 games), and he isn't about to start now.
He may have missed his second-straight practice with a knee injury, but he says that won't stop him from playing in Miami Sunday.
"The only way I'm not going to play is if I need crutches, so I'm good to go," Smith told reporters.
And then Smith walked away … without crutches.
Smith missed the final two series of the 34-33 loss to the San Diego Chargers last week. With him and Marlon Brown out (concussion), the offense turned to Kamar Aiken and Jacoby Jones. Brown returned to practice Thursday as a full participant after going through the NFL concussion protocol, and rookie receiver Michael Campanaro (thigh) has also been a full participant all week.
"One of the things about our group this year [is] everybody's played," Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak said. "Everybody's had a chance to pitch in. The other day, Marlon's out, Torrey's out at the end of the game, so Kamar [Aiken] is out there making plays, Jacoby [Jones] goes in and makes plays. So I've got confidence in all of our guys. I don't know who it's going to take, but whoever's out there, they'll do the job."
Tyson – One Of Ngata's Backups – Misses Practice For Jury Duty
It's a huge week for third-year defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson, considering he could be activated to help fill in for Ngata.
But he missed practice yesterday while performing an important civic responsibility. He had jury duty, and didn't arrive at the Under Armour Performance Center until the practice session had ended, according to Wilson.
The 2012 seventh-round pick has been a healthy scratch the past three games, but could be a part of the defensive line rotation along with Timmy Jernigan and Lawrence Guy.
Flacco Has Second-Fewest Sacks In NFL
Quarterback Joe Flacco has only been sacked 15 times this season, which is tied (Andy Dalton) for the second-fewest in the NFL, per The Sun's Jon Meoli.
Only the Broncos' Peyton Manning has taken fewer sacks.
"Ten of those sacks … came on the road, with a majority in the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers losses," wrote Meoli. "It's not exactly a frenzied crowd in Miami like it is in those places, but Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon have a combined 15 sacks between them this year and will put pressure on the Ravens."
Wake primarily lines up on right tackle Rick Wagner's side, and he could prove to be Wagner's biggest challenge yet. The second-year player has given up two sacks and 15 quarterback hits this season, according to Pro Football Focus.
"[Wake] is obviously a great player, and he gets off the ball real quick," Wagner told Meoli. "He's super quick for his size. He's a big guy, he has some power as well. I just have to do a good job this week in practice just focusing on getting off [snaps]."
It may be no coincidence that the season the offensive line is keeping Flacco upright is also the season he's throwing fewer interceptions. His 12 picks are two fewer than the 14 he had at this point last year.
"Flacco has been much better than a year ago, and is on pace for 3,978 yards — just shy of his first career 4,000-yard season," wrote Meoli.