Could Colts Nab Ravens (Haloti) Ngata?


The Indianapolis Colts have a number of defensive holes to address offseason, as there were some glaring weaknesses in their 45-7 blowout loss to the New England Patriots in this year’s AFC Championship Game. One of the biggest is along the defensive line, where the Colts have been consistently manhandled by the New England Patriots up front in recent seasons.

After surrendering 148 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns to Patriots powerback LeGarrette Blount yet again, the Colts defense has to get bigger and stronger.

Why not start in the middle?

Aug 7, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens tackle Haloti Ngata (92) during the game against the San Francisco at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

While Josh Chapman isn’t a bad defensive lineman by any means, he hasn’t been a game-changing player at starting nose tackle in his 2 played seasons with the team. Ideally, he’s a rotational defensive lineman on a really good defense. We’ve previously brought up the idea of bringing the Arizona Cardinals “Big Dan” Williams from the desert to become the Colts starting nose tackle. However, another possible option could be the Baltimore Ravens Haloti Ngata.

The 9-year pro has consistently been one of the most dominant defensive lineman in football since being drafted in the 1st round of the 2006 NFL Draft out of the University of Oregon by the Baltimore Ravens. Since then, he’s been a 5x All-Pro, 5x Pro Bowler, and Super Bowl XLVII Champion as a member of the Ravens.

At 6’4, 340 pounds, Ngata has experience at both defensive end and nose tackle in a 3-4 defensive scheme. Like the Colts very own Arthur Jones, he offers some major versatility along a team’s defensive line. Also like Jones before him, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is very familiar with Ngata, having served as a Baltimore Ravens defensive coach from 2008-11, most notably as their defensive coordinator in 2011.

Having previously signed Ex-Baltimore Ravens standout defensive lineman like Cory Redding and the aforementioned Arthur Jones, the Colts are no strangers to signing former Ravens defensive castoffs. Ngata could quite possibly be just the next in line.

However, it’s unclear whether he’ll actually hit the free agent market at this juncture. He’s due a $16 million dollar cap hit at his current contract in 2015 as a member of the Ravens, and his team could save $8.5 million by releasing him. It’s worth noting that he’s also showed some unwillingness to restructure his contract in recent seasons, which may further complicate matters.

Still, if he does become available, the Colts would be expected to become very interested. As CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora noted with his top offseason priorities for each team, specifically mentioning Ngata for the Colts:

"“Oh, and I’m watching that Ngata situation closely — with coach Chuck Pagano having coached him in Baltimore and my run defense still poor.”"

The 31-year old remains highly productive too, coming off a season in which he recorded 31 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions in 12 starts before being suspended for 4 games because of PED’s. However, it looks as though Ngata was taking Adderall rather than other possible steroids, if there’s some form of a silver lining there.

Oct 13, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens tackle Haloti Ngata (92) against the Green Bay Packers at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

While the Colts have unfortunately already crossed the PED suspension bridge this past season with recently released safety LaRon Landry and their star pass rusher Robert Mathis, the team would likely have to overlook Ngata’s past Adderall use given his talent level and how much he’d vastly improve their defensive line.

As testament, according to ProFootballFocus (subscription), Ngata was the 9th best overall 3-4 defensive end with a +18.4 overall grade. His +8.9 grade against the run effectively placed him as the 11th best 3-4 defensive end in this regard. Whether he’d play at defensive end or nose tackle, he’d be a true difference maker for the Indianapolis Colts defense up front along their defensive line. However, if it were me, I’d nab him to play nose tackle for the Colts, where they’ve never had a dominating presence inside since Pagano’s arrival in 2012.

If you look at a lot of the great 3-4 defenses over recent years, for many of them, it started at nose tackle. The Pittsburgh Steelers of the early 2000’s had Casey Hampton, the San Diego Chargers of the early 2000’s had Jamal Williams, and even the New England Patriots have had the luxury of having Vince Wilfork anchor their middle at nose tackle through the years.

Ngata would assuredly see a lot of time at defensive end, but he could make a huge impact at nose tackle weighing in at an athletic 340 pounds, no pun intended. Ngata possesses a rare combination of quickness and size that automatically requires a double team, making the lives of his defensive line counterparts so much easier.

Still, nabbing Ngata will cost the Colts a pretty penny, and they’ll have to be prepared to “pony up” the cash, as he’s currently one of the highest paid defensive lineman in the NFL. Fortunately, the team is projected to have $25-40 million of cap space. However, even at age 31, he’ll likely still command a 3-4 year contract that runs $10-13 million dollars annually: