Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Sep 2011

Ravens Give Long-Term Deal to Ngata

After franchising him in the offseason, the Ravens came to an agreement with Haloti Ngata on a long-term contract today, on the deadline for franchise players to sign extensions. The total value of the deal is said to be $61 million over five years. Only two franchise players didn't sign an extension: Vincent Jackson and Paul Soliai.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 20 Sep 2011

30 comments, Last at 22 Sep 2011, 2:02pm by Anonymous Coward


by 0tarin :: Tue, 09/20/2011 - 5:07pm

Fantastic news. I would've liked to see it significantly earlier, but glad they finally locked him down, especially given the recent reports that the two sides were nowhere even close.

Plus, $61/5 seems fairly reasonable on the surface; we'll have to see what the guarantees are, but still not a bad deal.

EDIT: Early reports say $40m over the first two years, which is surprisingly front-loaded. No word on how much is guaranteed, however.

by rageon :: Tue, 09/20/2011 - 5:44pm

EDIT: Early reports say $40m over the first two years, which is surprisingly front-loaded. No word on how much is guaranteed, however.

Lance Briggs approves.

by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 11:31am

I'm having a hard time understanding the reasonableness that pays substantially more than Wilfork's 5/41. Aren't these two basically the same player?

by Joseph :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 11:48am

I'm too lazy to look it up, but isn't Ngata 3 or 4 years younger?

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 11:59am

1. Wilfork's deal was done a year earlier
2. Ngata was a year and change younger at the time of signing
3. They may be comparable as run-stuffers, but Ngata is far more explosive, quick and consequentially more versatile and a superior pass-rusher

by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 2:00pm

Two years and change.

I'm not willing to accept that the negligible difference in explosiveness between the two being worth the great difference in contract value. Heck, I wouldn't even say Ngata is more explosive.

The fact Wilfork signed last year is relevant, as is his being two years older. But the difference in contract guarantees is $40m to $25, in favor of Ngata. That's a great difference.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 8:14am

Ngata is two years and change younger. Ergo Ngata now is one year and change younger than Wilfork was a year ago, which is the relevant comparison.

I think there are clearly just two perspectives on how significant the difference in ability is. The contracts suggest that the views of NFL teams lean towards "fairly significant", but clearly it's far from a perfectly efficient marketplace.

Out of interest, is your view closer to "the Ravens overpaid" or "the Patriots got a steal"?

by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 9:01am

Wilfork signed the largest NT contract ever last year, so it's not like he accepted a big discount. But if Ngata is more an DT than NT, it's not like he accepted a big discount either.

I think the value difference between the two lies with Ngata's agent doing an excellent job convincing BAL that Ngata should be paid as an DT. Even though most still consider him a NT.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 11:24am

That and the veteran environment under this CBA is different than the uncapped year or the old CBA. Teams still signed last year like there was going to be a cap.

The rookie changes, and the higher floor, have a bigger impact than I expected. I did some rough numbers and it appears teams are looking at $5 - $20 million less cap used on rookies depending on draft slots. They are looking at needing to spend $10-$20 million more to hit the floor (though that isn't enforced yet, but most are not waiting too long). That is $15 - $40 million more for veteran players. So paying the guys you know are special is a bit simpler.

It's possible teams are still overspending, but projections seem to show the cap growing by 5-10% a year. So while the cap right now is 120 million will be 186 to 283 million (5% vs 10% growth) in 2020. Yes the rookie contracts and other veteran contracts grow by 10% a year. So the #1 pick in 2020 will be getting a 4 year $34 million contract vs Newtons 4 year $22 million deal. So that is $12 million (and I don't have great numbers for the other rounds but lets call it $25) of the $66 -$163 million growth expected. That is a lot of room for more money to vets.

Again that's a quick and dirty back of the envelop but this year it is much better to be a veteran player than it had been.

by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 1:04pm

That's a great point about the different spending environments in-place when the two contracts were signed.

I'd also like to correct my first paragraph.
"Wilfork signed the largest NT contract ever last year, so it's not like he accepted a big discount. But if Ngata is more an DT than NT, which he now is, literally, it's not like his new contract is out of line."

I think it's pretty clear that within a 3-4 defense, DT make more than NT. I also think it's pretty clear, now that both the Ravens and Pats have switched from the 3-4 (negating the NT position), Ngata is paid fairly while Wilfork would have done well waiting another year to sign.

by RichC (not verified) :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 11:13am

"3. They may be comparable as run-stuffers, but Ngata is far more explosive, quick and consequentially more versatile and a superior pass-rusher"

Completely disagree.

When the Patriots have played Wilfork off the nose, hes proven to be quite versatile, and quite explosive. He's the best end they have. He just also happens to be the best nose they have.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 11:40am

Being the best the Patriots have does not necessarily make him as good at those things as Ngata.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 1:17pm

They're basically the same player in the same way that Schaub and Rivers are basically the same player. They are both good defensive tackles, but while Wilfork is "only" a solid quality starter, Ngata is elite. The only other two of comparable ability in my opinion are Kyle Williams and Ndamukong Suh (I know there's not much data on him yet), and I'd still favor Ngata in that group.

by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 2:05pm

Even with Williams positioned at NT, I think you're talking apples and watermelon seeds comparing him and Suh to Ngata/Wilfork. Different players entirely.

by MJK :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 10:38pm

Disagree with your comparison. While I admit that Wilfork is not clearly better than Ngata, I don't think he's clearly worse, either. He doesn't show up on the stat sheet as much, but I think that's because of the difference in schemes the two teams have run. Until this year, the Patriots ran a 2-gap 3-4 primarily, meaning their nose tackle (Wilfork) lines up directly over the center, tries to control both A-gaps, and is pretty much constantly double teamed and eats blockers, allowing the LB's to make plays. While I'm not a Ravens fan and not as familiar with their scheme, the reading I've done implies that they run primarily a "hybrid" 3-4 (ironically, first invented by the Patriots back in the 70's), where the defensive line is shifted towards the strong side into a 1-gap scheme and the Will backer becomes almost a 4-3 end, allowing the nose tackle (Ngata) to function more like a 1-gap DT in a 4-3, which by definition racks up more impressive stats than a 2-gap NT.

Until recently, Ngata fans could argue that he's a true 3-down DT capable of playing any position along the D-line, but of late that's also true of Wilfork. Starting last year, Wilfork starting playing all three downs consistently, and has been shifting up and down the line from 3-4 DE to 3-4 NT to 4-3 DT at will.

In short, I think it's pretty clear that Wilfork and Ngata are two of the best NT's in the league, but I don't think there's a clear case that one is playing better than the other right now. Granted, Wilfork is older and so probably isn't worth as much in the long run, but I think he plays at a comparable level.

by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 9:14am

Well done. If I may add:

Wilfork - Height: 6-2 Weight: 325 lbs
5.08 (Pro Day)
Vertical Jump: 26 1/2
Broad Jump: 8'5"
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.50
3-Cone Drill: 7.62
225 Lb. Bench Reps: 36

Nagata - Height: 6-4 Weight: 335 lbs
5.13 (NFL Combine)
Vertical Jump: 31 1/2
Broad Jump: 09'02"
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.69
3-Cone Drill: 7.97
225 Lb. Bench Reps: 37

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 10:58am

Interesting. In other words, insofar as the combine drills are a good indicator for this sort of thing, they are comparably powerful, but Wilfork is noticeably quicker/more agile (shuttle and three cone) while Ngata is noticeably more explosive (jumps). I would expect the latter to be more valuable in an interior lineman, but the former is a surprising (to me at least) and intriguing result.

by Anonymous454545 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 9:15am

Hey! Nice Rational Ngata/Wilfork debate.

As a Pats fan, I couldn't agree more with the consensus that Ngata is a much more more dynamic (and therefore) and slightly more valuable player. Plus he absolutely destroys the Pats O-line. If I were drafting for a 3-4 defense, I'd go Ngata then Wilfork. Ngata gets the nod because of his age and pass rush, but the advantage is slight.

by andrew :: Tue, 09/20/2011 - 5:39pm

Hakuna Ngata... its our worry-free.... philosophy...

by BaronFoobarstein :: Tue, 09/20/2011 - 6:35pm

Terrible deal. They should have Traded Ngata to the Steelers for a sixth round pick. I don't know what the front office was thinking.

by Theo :: Tue, 09/20/2011 - 6:50pm

Terrible, terrible decision. The sooner they get rid of him, preferably to the Steelers, the better.

by RickD :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 2:50pm

You're clearly blinded in advancing such a foolish proposition.

Clearly the Ravens should have traded him to the Pats.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 5:30pm

That makes no sense. You don't trade players to the Pats, you trade your first four picks of the next two drafts in exchange for whichever aging marginal castoff they've made look good for the past two seasons they offer.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 3:02am

At this point, I don't even care what money is. If you have your hands on a top DT you do not let go.

by andrew :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 8:07am

You can't unconditionally say that...

e.g., the Patriots let Richard Seymour go... though he mostly played DT in the 4-3, not the 3-4.

Tennessee letting Haynesworth go was probably the right choice, though he probably would have been better had he stayed than he was in DC...

by RickD :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 2:52pm

The Pats traded Seymour partly because BB thought he'd been dogging it after signing his big contract (at least that's what the rumor mill said at the time). Also, Seymour played DE under the Pats' 3-4 system, which they used a lot more back then. (But yeah, when the switched to 4-3 he would be the other DT.)

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 5:03pm

Right, but QB's who has looked fantastic for a year or two, sometimes deteriorate as well. There's risk with anyone. But the chance that he's actually this good is worth a lot. A lot.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 11:26am

I think elite all-purpose defensive tackles are probably somewhat underpaid (though this deal may change that) but obviously it is possible to overpay for any player. If Peyton Manning demanded $50m a year, it would be unwise to pay it, and he is certainly more valuable than any DT.

by bigsnack (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 12:30pm

One of the five best defensive players in football. Maybe the best. He sure would look good in Black and Gold...

by Anonymous Coward (not verified) :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 2:02pm

Does anyone other than Patriots fans actually believe that Wilfork is a valuable as Ngata?