BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens bid a reluctant farewell to Haloti Ngata on Tuesday, trading the five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle former Highland High School star to the Detroit Lions to create much-needed salary cap space.
The Ravens will receive a fourth- and fifth-round pick for Ngata and a seventh-round selection, according to a report on the Lions' website.
Ngata starred for nine years in Baltimore after being selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2006 draft.
The Ravens finished last season a mere $4 million under the salary cap, and general manager Ozzie Newsome hoped to renegotiate Ngata's contract to get some wiggle room. Ngata is due $8.5 million next season and has a $16 million salary cap figure.
The two sides apparently did not reach an accord, so Baltimore traded the 6-foot-4, 340-pounder to a team with a need at the position.
Ngata, 31, fills the void for the Lions left by the departure of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who is expected to sign with the Miami Dolphins.
Coming into the free agency period, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti made clear the importance of retaining Ngata — at the right price.
"I put Haloti in that group of iconic players that helped us to get where we are as a franchise," Bisciotti said. "That's Ozzie job to negotiate the nuances of those contracts that allow us to get some cap relief and give Haloti a chance to stay here."
Bisciotti kiddingly hoped that Ngata would take into consideration his side job as a commercial spokesman for a local market chain.
"Twenty-eight teams don't have Royal Farms stores in their area," Bisciotti said, "so there is some incentive for him to want to stay here to close things out."
That wasn't enough.
"Haloti is a great player, but an even better person," coach John Harbaugh said in a statement issued by the Ravens. "He has been an anchor of our success for many years. We appreciate everything he has done for our organization and the Baltimore community."
Ngata started 12 games last season before serving a four-game suspension for using Adderall. He returned for the playoffs and had three tackles, including a sack, in two games.
Ngata wasn't the only starter from the 2014 team to depart on Tuesday. Tight end Owen Daniels, who had 48 catches for 527 yards and four touchdowns, signed with the Denver Broncos.
Baltimore was also expected to lose standout wide receiver Torrey Smith to San Francisco and linebacker Pernell McPhee to the Chicago Bears.
The Ravens wanted to keep Smith, who scored 30 touchdowns and ranks as the franchise leader in yards per catch (16.9 yards). But Baltimore needed him to accept a discount offer.
"Some of the numbers that are thrown out there, quite frankly, we can't match," Bisciotti acknowledged. "We don't have that kind of space."