The Ravens have officially traded defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to the Detroit Lions.
Baltimore will reportedly receive fourth- and fifth-round round picks in return, according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King among others. In addition to Ngata, the Ravens are sending a seventh-round pick to the Lions, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. The trade is pending a physical.
The Ravens had been trying to work out a contract extension with Ngata, but were unsuccessful and decided to ship him to another team minutes before free agency opened.
The move frees up a reported $8.5 million in salary – space, which was much needed because the Ravens had little room. Ngata was set to carry a team-high $16 million salary-cap figure into next season.
The Lions had a desire for a defensive tackle after they did not re-sign four-time Pro Bowler Ndamukong Suh.
"Haloti has been an outstanding player for us for many years," General Manager Ozzie Newsome stated. "He consistently showed tremendous leadership in our locker room and on the field. At times, he was one of the NFL's most dominant players."
Newsome drafted Ngata 12th overall in 2006 and he became an immediate starter en route to five Pro Bowls (2009 – 2013).
With his incredible athleticism for his hulking 6-foot-4, 340-pound size, Ngata devours blocks for linebackers to make tackles behind him. He creates pressure on the quarterback and has averaged* *about three sacks per season. He even was tied for the Ravens team lead in interceptions (two) last year, along with seven passes defensed.
However, the Ravens got a sneak peek at their future without Ngata last year.
When Ngata was suspended for the final four games of the regular season for using performance enhancing drugs (Adderall), second-round defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan stepped in.
Alongside Brandon Williams, Jernigan played very well, notching 10 tackles and two sacks over that period and finished the year with 23 tackles and four sacks. Jernigan is now in line to see a lot more snaps, and could have an even bigger impact in 2015.
"Haloti is a great player, but an even better person," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He has been an anchor of our success for many years. We appreciate everything he has done for our organization and the Baltimore community. We wish he and his family nothing but the best."