The Ravens and Haloti Ngata couldn't get a long-term deal done, so a one-year, $12.5 million contract will have to do for now.
Ngata, the Ravens' two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, will sign his franchise tender today, according to a source. That will lock him in for the 2011 season.
Under the franchise tag, Ngata will make the average salary of the top five defensive tackles in the league.
Both the Ravens and Ngata are confident that they will be able to reach a long-term contract eventually, but with a lockout pending, the Ravens placed the franchise tag on Ngata two weeks ago, and the dominant defensive tackle will sign the tender to ensure at the very least he'll earn his $12.5 million with the purple and black next season.
Ngata has evolved into one of the premier defensive linemen in the league, and his 2010 season might have been his best yet as a pro. Ngata had 63 total tackles and 5.5 sacks, both career-highs, and batted down five passes.
The Oregon product is reportedly seeking a contract at around $15 million annually. The deal could resemble the five-year, $68 million deal that Lions rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh received last year, although don't be shocked if Ngata's deal eventually tops that monster contract.
There were a couple obstacles to Ngata getting that multiyear contract with the Ravens done right now, namely the "30 percent rule", which says that a player's salary can't be increased by more than 30 percent each year.
The Ravens have a positive track record when it comes to locking up long-term deals with players on whom they have applied the franchise tag. Both cornerback Chris McAlister and linebacker Terrell Suggs received long-term contracts after being designated as the Ravens' franchise player.
Both sides seem to feel that Ngata will continue that trend, but for now, he'll have to wait on that long-term deal. Once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, the two sides will be able to try and hammer out a contract to keep Ngata in Baltimore for quite a while.