Haloti Ngata signs franchise tender

Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata signed his $12.47 million, one-year franchise tender, guaranteeing his salary for next season. The Ravens weren't able to sign Ngata to a long-term contract extension due to the unresolved labor situation.

By using the franchise tag on Ngata and paying him the average of the top five salaries at his position, the Ravens prevented him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Both sides are committed to working something out once the collective bargaining agreement situation is settled.

"Haloti is a beast," Ravens cornerback Fabian Washington said. "They had to keep that guy." A pending lockout and the 30-percent rule that mandates that each player's salary can't be increased by more than 30 percent each year were the road blocks to locking up Ngata on a long-term basis.

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh's five-year, $68 million contract includes $40 million in guaranteed money. And Ngata's financial package is expected to eventually exceed those numbers.

It's believed that Ngata is seeking a contract in the neighborhood of $15 million annually. Ngata is a two-time Pro Bowl selection. He was voted the Ravens' Most Valuable Player by reporters last season.

The 6-foot-4, 350-pounder recorded 65 tackles last season, including a career-high 5 1/2 sacks to go with five pass deflections and one fumble recovery.

Ngata was selected 12th overall in the 2006 NFL draft.

"He's not only one of our best players, he's one of our best guys," Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta said this offseason. "His leadership, off-the-field intangibles, work ethic, he's just a special guy."

The Ravens signed Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs to a six-year, $62.5 million deal after twice using the franchise tag on him,. Ngata has posted 328 career tackles, 12 sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

With Ngata anchoring the middle of the defense, the Ravens have allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns during that span with 31 surrendered and the second fewest rushing first downs.

"Clarence Brooks has really done a great job with Haloti, but a lot of it's really on Haloti," DeCosta said. "He works extremely hard. He's got a great work ethic. He's made himself into one of the better players in the league."

NOTES: Operating under last year's free agent rules, the Ravens have assigned restricted free agent tenders to offensive linemen Marshal Yanda and Chris Chester. Chester got the original round (second round) tender. Last year, Yanda got the second-round tender. The Ravens are also expected to assign restricted tenders to offensive tackle Jared Gaither and fullback Le'Ron McClain.

... The Ravens have conducted preliminary contract discussions with unrestricted free agent cornerback Chris Carr. No deal is imminent. .

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