OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata received the franchise player tag Tuesday from the Baltimore Ravens, who ultimately hope to sign the Pro Bowl star to a lengthy contract.
“The tender allows us to secure Haloti as a Raven right now,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “As we have said, our intention is to enter into a long-term contract with him. We want him to be a Raven.”
Ngata was placed in the non-exclusive franchise category, which means he can negotiate with other teams. But Baltimore would have the right to match the offer or receive two first-round picks if he signs elsewhere.
Because of the NFL’s uncertain labor situation, the franchise tag could be dissolved after the current CBA expires on March 4.
If the franchise tag continues to exist, Ngata will make the average of the top salaries at his position, which could be in the vicinity of $12 million.
Ngata was drafted by Baltimore in 2006 with the 12th overall pick. The 6’4″, 350-pounder had 65 tackles and a career-high 51/2 sacks this season in making the Pro Bowl for a second straight year.
He has missed only two games in his five seasons with the Ravens.
The last two players to be franchised by the Ravens, linebacker Terrell Suggs and cornerback Chris McAlister, received long-term contracts from the team.
After the Ravens were eliminated from the playoffs by Pittsburgh last month, coach John Harbaugh said keeping Ngata was “priority No. 1” during the offseason.
“It’s really important,” Harbaugh said. “I believe Haloti Ngata will be a Raven for life. That’s the goal. I know that Haloti wants that. He’s 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.”
At Baltimore’s season-ending news conference, Newsome said: “I don’t think, other than maybe preparing for the draft, there is any other thing that has the most importance to me than to bring a player (back)like Haloti, get him under contract.
“And, history within this organization proves that we will do that. When you go to Ray (Lewis) to Jonathan (Ogden) to Ed (Reed), we’ve always demonstrated our abilities that players that perform well get the opportunity to play here for a long time.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)