Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston rants about the trade of Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata and a 7th-round NFL draft pick to the Detroit Lions for their 4th- and 5th-round picks. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
Haloti Ngata played the recent negotiations like he would a goal line situation. He dug in, took the initial shot, never blinked and didn't relinquish any ground.
The Ravens traded the five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Tuesday afternoon, along with a seventh-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, to the Detroit Lions in exchange for fourth and fifth round selections. The two sides couldn't come to an agreement on a restructured contract but for Ngata, 31, it was about more than money.
It was also about principle and pride. He might have been on the downside of his nine-year playing career, but he was still one of the best at his position in the NFL.
He might have agreed to a new deal if he was at the tail end of his career or physically broken down like former Ravens Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed was during his last season in Baltimore, but Ngata knew he could still play at a high level.
He wasn't going to cave in to the Ravens' new demands, like teammate Terrell Suggs did last year when the Pro Bowl outside linebacker signed a restructured deal.
Oh no, Ngata had worked too hard to reach this point in his career. In fact, there were times in the locker room when he exchanged friendly banter with Suggs about how he allowed the Ravens to push him around.
Negotiations between the Ravens and Ngata had been going on for two years. Last offseason, Ngata shrugged those talks off as quickly as he does some offensive guards. This offseason, though, had to be different because Ngata was scheduled to make $8.5 million in 2015 with $16 million going against the salary cap. If the Ravens were serious about being top contenders again, the No. 1 priority was getting Ngata to sign a new deal.
The Ravens appeared to have a reasonable chance of success because the Ngata family was entrenched in Baltimore, and very active in the community.
But when a veteran like Ngata gets a certain age, they are only interested in obtaining a Super Bowl ring or trying to secure one last big pay day. Since Ngata was already on a championship team, he held firm to his original contract and will draw the same salary in Detroit.
I also believe Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome did a good job salvaging the situation because the Ravens were able to come away with two draft picks, and at the same time give themselves some immediate financial relief.
Despite losing outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, tight end Owen Daniels, receiver Torrey Smith and now Ngata this offseason, the Ravens aren't in bad shape. Ngata played well last season, but certainly is replaceable with such outstanding young talent on the roster as Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan.
Every championship team always has some veteran leadership, and Ngata was one of those leaders along with Suggs, outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, inside linebacker Daryl Smith and receiver Steve Smith. That void will be hard to fill.
So will Ngata's presence in the community. Like Torrey Smith, Ngata was always around Baltimore contributing to some charity.
His style of play will also be missed on Sundays because Ngata drew double teams that allowed inside linebackers to run sideline to sideline. He could control the middle of the line of scrimmage and was a major reason why the Ravens usually played strong run defense.