Despite the debacle that was last week in Houston, the Ravens will beat Connor Shaw and the Josh Gordon-less Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday. But with their playoff chances resting on the shoulders of a guy named Chase Daniel, it’s hard not to start looking ahead to 2015.
Haloti Ngata has been one of the most consistently excellent defensive players in Ravens history, and that says a lot. Since being drafted in 2006 he’s been one of the best defensive lineman in the NFL. Frequently double teamed, he is a big reason guys like Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil can put up huge sack numbers year in and year out. Heading into next year with his $16 million dollar cap number the Ravens have a tough decision to make, and as tough as this is to say, it’s probably in their best interest to cut ties with Haloti, and there are several reasons why.
After this season the Ravens will have a lot of needs that will be far more pressing before getting to their star defensive lineman. Their cornerback situation and lack of depth at the position has been exposed in a big way, and is one of the biggest reasons they will likely miss the postseason again. With Torrey Smith being an unrestricted free agent and a 36 year old Steve Smith entering 2015 they once again look thin in the pass catching department. Tight end is a huge question mark with an aging Owen Daniels and the uncertainty of Dennis Pitta. Running back will again need to be addressed with Justin Forsett wrapping up his one year deal. There are a lot of holes to fill.
The Ravens also have to be concerned with how much Adderall was helping Haloti. A lot of people roll their eyes when players get suspended for a drug that a lot of people take. But talk to anyone who knows what they’re talking about and they’ll tell you that it does provide a competitive edge. How much it was helping Ngata is unknown, but it has to be something the Ravens brass is thinking about.
Maybe the biggest reason the Ravens should cut ties with Ngata is how the defense has played in his absence. It’s a small sample size but the defense hasn’t missed a beat with Ngata out of the line up. In the last three games without him the Ravens are only allowing 3.48 yards per carry. Brandon Williams and Timmy Jerningan have been a dominant duo, and the Ravens have allowed 0 rushing touchdowns. Not to mention the Ravens are really high on Brent Urban who was taken in the fourth round but was lost for the year with an injury in training camp.
Seeing Haloti Ngata in another uniform would be tough for any Ravens fan to see. He’s been an integral part of the Ravens success over the last eight years. He’s a dominant wrecking ball in the middle of the defense that teams have to gameplan for. But with too many pressing needs, a huge cap number and in light of his age, it’s in the Ravens best interest to let their young guys play and spend $8.5 million they would save by releasing him elsewhere.