Haloti Ngata Looking for Ndamukong Suh-like Contract

News of NFL organizations applying the franchise tag to players they don’t want to risk losing is starting to fly all over the place. Peyton Manning is in discussions with the Colts about a new deal but the teams has placed their franchise tag on him that will pay him $23 million next year in the meantime.

The Baltimore Ravens used their tag on All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. I first came across the news on Rotoworld, who offered the following commentary:

Like the Patriots with Logan Mankins, the Ravens have made it clear that they remain intent on locking up Ngata long term. If the tag sticks, Ngata will earn approximately $12.5 million in 2011. He’s seeking a deal in neighborhood of Ndamukong Suh‘s $40 million guaranteed. One of the most dominant defensive linemen in the game, the 27-year-old is now Baltimore’s primary building block on defense.

Is it just me or does it feel really good to have a player worthy of setting a contractual baseline playing on the team we root for?

It might be easy to think that Suh’s contract will serve as a framework for a potential Ngata deal just because rookie contracts have gotten so out of control over the last decade or so. Top draft picks receive contracts that mirror those of the very best and their positions before they even step onto an NFL field. They don’t all live up to the dollars (it seems like most don’t) but Ndamukong Suh is one that has been worth every penny.

Does it make sense that Haloti Ngata, an established All-Pro and building block of the great Ravens defense, has to rely on Ndamukong Suh‘s contract for the framework of the contract that will cover his prime playing years? At first thought, perhaps not, but a look at each player’s statistics says otherwise.

Haloti Ngata‘s career stats:

Def Int Fumbles Tackles
Year Age Tm G GS Sk Int PD FF FR TD Tkl Ast AV
2006 22 BAL 16 16 1.0 1 2 13 18 8
2007 23 BAL 16 16 3.0 0 1 1 0 0 43 20 7
2008 24 BAL 16 16 1.0 2 6 43 12 16
2009* 25 BAL 14 13 1.5 0 1 1 1 0 26 10 12
2010*+ 26 BAL 16 15 5.5 0 4 0 1 0 47 16 17
Career 78 76 12.0 3 14 2 2 0 172 76 60

Ndamukong Suh‘s career stats:

Def Int Fumbles Tackles
Year Age Tm G GS Sk Int PD FF FR TD Tkl Ast AV
2010*+ 23 DET 16 16 10.0 1 3 1 1 1 48 17 15
Career 16 16 10.0 1 3 1 1 1 48 17 15

The stats above are provided by pro-football-reference.com, a tremendous statistical resource. The column on the left marked “AV” is adjusted value and is explained on the PFR website:

Created by PFR founder Doug Drinen, the Approximate Value (AV) method is an attempt to put a single number on the seasonal value of a player at any position from any year (since 1950).

I don’t think it is my biased opinion that makes it hard for me to understand why Ngata has a higher AV for 2010 than Suh despite lesser numbers nearly across the board. PFR acknowledges this isn’t an exact science:

AV is not meant to be a be-all end-all metric. Football stat lines just do not come close to capturing all the contributions of a player the way they do in baseball and basketball. If one player is a 16 and another is a 14, we can’t be very confident that the 16AV player actually had a better season than the 14AV player.

At any rate, Ndamukong Suh‘s rookie season is at least on par with what Haloti Ngata is after five years in the league. Ngata receives some credit for consistency but Suh’s contract has to be viewed in the context of his expected career trajectory. Ndamukong is barely off his starting position while Ngata has reached his stride.

The Rotoworld commentary reference above said that Ngata will be looking for a deal in the neighborhood of Suh’s $40 million guaranteed. Let’s be clear, the neighborhood in question belongs to Suh, not Ngata.

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Topics: Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions, Haloti Ngata, Ndamukong Suh

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