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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
Leading up to the start of free agency, Sports Talk Philly and Eagledelphia will be taking a look at the players on the Eagles roster who are scheduled to become free agents this offseason and how the team should look to handle each.
In this edition, we will be covering defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
The twelfth overall pick in the 2006 draft, Ngata spent nine seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. In his time with the team, he made five consecutive Pro Bowls and was named to the All-Pro team twice in a row. His increase in production from 2008 to 2012 helped the Ravens reach the playoffs in each of those seasons as well as win the Super Bowl in 2012.
Ngata’s final two seasons in Baltimore were his worst in the league other than his first two and the Ravens cut him following the 2014 season when they were facing a $16 million cap hit to keep Ngata for the following season. The move turned out to be a good one as Ngata signed with the Detroit Lions and had the three worst seasons in his career, including suffering his first major injury and playing in only five games in 2017.
The Eagles made what appeared to be a great signing by adding Ngata in the 2018 offseason. He seemed like a great candidate for a rotational role with limited snaps. Unfortunately, Tim Jernigan played fewer than 50 snaps all season and the Eagles were forced to rely heavily on Ngata and a rotating door of other tackles that were cut and signed throughout the course of the season. The result was that Ngata had the worst season of his career aside from the previous season when he played only five games.
The Eagles currently have four defensive tackles under contract. The Eagles will absolutely have a good pairing with Fletcher Cox and Treyvon Hester. Hester was more than just the hero of the divisional round that blocked Cody Parkey’s kick. He was actually ranked as the 12th best interior defensive lineman in the league by Pro Football Focus. Of course, Fletcher Cox ranked only behind Aaron Donald.
The other two players under contract are Tim Jernigan and Bruce Hector. Hector will absolutely be around during training camp to compete for a spot, but Jernigan carries a $13 million cap hit and the Eagles can decline to pick up his option in 2019 to clear all that space if Jernigan refuses to restructure his current deal. Since he played fewer than 50 snaps, the Eagles will not pick up his existing option especially if they do plan to franchise tag Nick Foles.
It must also be mentioned that the draft is deep with defensive linemen this year and, with three picks in the first two rounds, it would be shocking if the Eagles did not draft at least one immediate impact player at defensive tackle or end.
Ngata could very well choose to call it a career following this season, so it might take additional money to convince him to return. He signed a one-year, $3 million deal to play the 2018 season with the Birds. His injuries and poor play would likely bring that value down, but with the aforementioned possible retirement, Ngata would probably be looking for another $3 million deal.
The Eagles picked up Treyvon Hester midseason and his impact was greater than the impact Ngata had all season long. A full season of him combined with Fletcher Cox and the possibility of a healthy Tim Jernigan and/or impact rookie creates a deeper position than the Eagles had at any point this year. The Eagles need to save cap space and Hester is an ideal way to do it. The only defensive tackles the Eagles should look to sign in free agency are bargain players, which I do not expect Ngata to be.
Decision: Move On
PREVIOUS SERIES ENTRIES:
Eagles Free Agent Evaluation: Brandon Graham
Eagles Free Agent Evaluation: Jordan Hicks
Eagles Free Agent Evaluation: Ronald Darby
Eagles Free Agent Evaluation: Jay Ajayi
Eagles Free Agent Evaluation: Golden Tate
Eagles Free Agent Evaluation: Jordan Matthews
Eagles Free Agent Evaluation: Richard Rodgers