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If Haloti Ngata is Released from the Ravens, Would the Colts be Interested?

There is a lot of uncertainty as to whether the Ravens will cut defensive lineman Haloti Ngata will part ways this offseason or whether they will agree to a restructured contract, but if he does become a free agent, would the Colts be interested?

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis more than thirty years ago, but more recently we've seen a number of players moving from Baltimore to Indianapolis to play for the Colts.  It makes perfect sense, as the Colts hired former Ravens defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Chuck Pagano to be their head coach in 2012.  Since then, the team has signed former Ravens defenders Cory Redding and Arthur Jones.  Because of all of that, whenever a Ravens defensive player moves on from Baltimore, whether as a cut or as a free agent, people speculate about whether the Colts would be interested.

That's happening again this offseason, and the Colts reportedly are likely to be "very involved" in pursuing defensive lineman Pernell McPhee, who is expected to leave the Ravens to cash in as a free agent.  So while that is definitely a situation to keep an eye on, there is another situation involving a Ravens defensive player that Colts fans should be keeping an eye on.

It's no secret in league circles that there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the status of defensive lineman Haloti Ngata.  The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson reports that the team is trying to get Ngata to restructure his contract to ease up from the $16 million cap hit that he brings in the final year of his contract, especially as the Ravens have a tough salary cap situation this offseason (which is also reason it's expected McPhee will leave in free agency).  It's clear that the Ravens would like to keep Ngata around, as owner Steve Biscotti even called him a "cornerstone" player in the team's history.  But is that actually going to happen?  It's very uncertain right now.

CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora wrote yesterday that, "barring some significant progress I would not be surprised if Haloti Ngata has played his last game as a Raven."  ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted a list of veteran players who had already been cut and noted that Ngata might join them.  And ESPN's Ed Werder reported that, though Ngata would like to stay with the Ravens, he thinks he still has three more years left of high level play and is "prepared to move [from the Ravens] on if necessary."

Clearly, there is a lot of speculation that the Ravens might release Haloti Ngata, which according to Over the Cap would save the team $8.5 million.  And something that a lot of Colts fans have been asking about is whether the team would be interested in signing the lineman if he is indeed released.

The 31-year old Ngata has spent the last nine seasons with the Ravens since being drafted by the team in the first round of the 2006 draft, and he has consistently played at a very high level.  He has been named to five All-Pro teams and five Pro Bowls and was a member of the Ravens' Super Bowl championship team in the 2012 season.  He has played in 135 games (starting 133) and has recorded 445 tackles, 25.5 sacks, 29 passes defensed, five interceptions, and six forced fumbles during his career.  He played great in 2014 also, recording 31 tackles, two sacks, seven passes defensed, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles in twelve games, though he was suspended for the final four regular season games for violating the league's PED policy.

If Ngata is released, the Colts would seem like a great fit.  Chuck Pagano was with the Ravens from 2008-2011 and coached Ngata, including as defensive coordinator in 2011.  The Colts run a similar defense to the one the Ravens have run, and the team really needs defensive line help.  Ngata would join former teammate Arthur Jones in Indy and perhaps Cory Redding as well, depending on what the defensive end decides to do pertaining to retirement.  Pagano called Ngata a "game wrecker" during the 2014 season before the Colts faced the Ravens, and the coach's history with the defensive lineman goes beyond that.

On the field, this would be a good move for the Colts to make because, well, they really need defensive line help.  Adding a player in Ngata that not only has played at a very high level for a number of years but who is familiar with the system would be an immediate and noticeable boost to the front seven.  Obviously the fact that Ngata is 31-years old and was suspended for four games last season will make teams a bit wary and might drive down his price a bit, but he's still a good player and would be a good fit for the Colts.  If Haloti Ngata is released from the Ravens, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Colts pursue the defensive lineman.  Everything is speculation right now, but it's definitely a situation to watch closely for Colts fans.