Tampering has been a popular topic in NFL circles in recent days, with the New England Patriots and New York Jets exchanging accusations over cornerback Darrelle Revis and several other teams reportedly under investigation for agreeing to deals with free agents before the market opened.
Will the Ravens become the next organization to attract scrutiny for violating league tampering rules? Team owner Steve Bisciotti's comments Wednesday night about former Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata could draw the attention of the Detroit Lions and the NFL.
"I respect Haloti. I had a wonderful conversation with him after he was traded. We are going to miss him, but I haven't heard anything about him getting an extension from Detroit. As far as I know, he could be a free agent a year from now, and we may be watching the second coming of Haloti Ngata," Bisciotti said during a conference call Wednesday night with Ravens personal-seat-license and season-ticket holders.
"Who knows? I never give up hope that we couldn't get him back. I talked to [former Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson] about that when he left for San Diego. Players like that are always welcome back. There were no hard feelings on either side. Haloti is a wonderful guy. I wish him the best, and maybe we'll see him again."
Unable to work out a contract extension with Ngata that would have lowered his salary cap hit, the Ravens traded the five-time Pro Bowl selection and a 2015 seventh-round pick last month to the Detroit Lions for fourth- and fifth-round picks in the 2016 draft.
Ngata has one more year left on his contract, and league rules stipulate that teams aren't permitted to speak publicly about potentially adding players under contract with another team.
Lions officials would have to file tampering charges with the league about Bisciotti's comments. Detroit declined to do so against Miami after the Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh, although specific details of the deal had leaked before unrestricted free agents were permitted to sign with other teams.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and Lions general manager Martin Mayhew are also close, and the Lions have done well under coach Jim Caldwell and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, both former Ravens assistants under John Harbaugh.