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Time is running out on Ravens, Haloti Ngata

3/9/2015

By this time Tuesday, the long-running contract talks between the Baltimore Ravens and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata will likely come to an end.

The Ravens will either reach an extension with Ngata or they will have to cut ties with one of the best players in franchise history. Unless the Ravens get creative, it will be difficult for them to make any moves by carrying Ngata's team-high $16 million figure. There is no hard deadline to get a deal done, but a move with Ngata represents the easiest way to create much-needed cap room.

It is really up to Ngata on how much he wants to finish his career with the Ravens. Based on how Ndamukong Suh drove up the market for all defensive linemen this weekend, the Ravens are probably not going to be able to pay Ngata what he can make in the open market.

The Ravens are likely offering guaranteed money that doubles his $8.5 million base salary in 2015. It was only last offseason when linebacker Terrell Suggs received $16 million in guaranteed money with his extension.

Ngata, though, has to believe he can get about $25 million in guaranteed money in free agency if Suh received $60 million on Sunday and Tampa Bay's Gerald McCoy landed $51.5 million in October. Ngata isn't the same caliber of tackle as Suh, but he's only three years older than him at 31.

An extension with Ngata is expected to free up about $5 million in cap space for the Ravens. Cutting Ngata would open up $8.5 million in cap room, but it would hurt the defense up front.

If Ngata is released, the presumed favorite to sign him is the Indianapolis Colts. A week ago, I posted four reasons why Ngata could end up in Indianapolis.

CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported that the Cleveland Browns would also be strong suitors for Ngata. The Browns have $50 million in cap space and the Colts have $38.4 million, according to ESPN's Roster Management System.

The Ravens' cap room dwindled from $4.635 million to $737,000 after the team tendered two restricted free agents, kicker Justin Tucker and safety Will Hill. The Ravens are going be right up against the cap after tendering their exclusive rights free agents. So, the Ravens have to either make a move with Ngata or they have to cut other players or restructure contracts to generate cap room.

For more than a year, the Ravens and Ngata have been talking about an extension. The sides are probably down to one day to get it done.