With Ngata signed, Ravens can target Flacco next

The Ravens committed $61 million to All-Pro DT Haloti Ngata on Tuesday, with the bulk of that money ($38 million) guaranteed and during the first two years of the contract. While the deal locks up arguably the Ravens’ best defensive player, its ripple effect will impact the team’s ability to sign other priorities going forward.

Ravens play-by-play man Gerry Sandusky said Tuesday on NFL Network that signing Ngata puts the team in position to turn its attention toward a deal for Joe Flacco.

“The signing of Ngata does two things for the Ravens,” Sandusky said. “One, it keeps their biggest guy at the point of attack who dominates the line of scrimmage in the Ravens’ future for the next five years, guaranteed. Two, going forward, it gives (Ravens general manager) Ozzie Newsome some cap room to work with because next year you will have contract negotiations coming up with Flacco. So the defense gets taken care of today. Next year, Newsome has a little more latitude to work with.”

The same goes for two other starters, RB Ray Rice and guard Ben Grubbs, both of whom are on rookie contracts that expire after 2011.

“The Ravens are trying to bite the bullet on Ngata now, and they know that come 2013, the (salary) cap will escalate,” NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora offered on “NFL Total Access.” “They’ll be in position to make moves.”

The Ravens balked at giving Flacco a long-term extension during the offseason, as owner Steve Bisciotti went on the record saying negotiations wouldn’t start until after the 2011 season. That didn’t exactly please Flacco, who reasoned that “if you’re not confident with who I am, I’m not sure what (difference) a year is going to make.”

It might make all the difference. The Ravens have locked up Ngata, and Flacco has a good chance of taking the Ravens to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season to start his career.

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