Ndamukong Suh is leaving town, but the role of "bigass defensive tackle" is apparently plugged right up. The Lions have traded fourth- and fifth-round picks (with a seventh-rounder coming back to Detroit, according to Albert Breer) to the Ravens for defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, who's been holding down the middle in Baltimore for the last decade.
Suh reportedly has a $114 million contract in Miami with $60 million guaranteed. Ngata, 31, was also looking expensive in Baltimore. He had a $16 million cap figure in the final year of his deal, and the Ravens had been trying to figure out how to restructure him into something lower. Didn't happen! So now the two-gap earth-mover and his $8.5 million base salary are coming to Detroit.
This is good news for the Lions. Ngata's missed a few games the last few years, but he's still a dope tackle, and Detroit's savage rush defense (-31.3% rush DVOA, best in the league) needed a replacement. That said, Ngata moved outside last year to make room for Brandon Williams; he played a lot of standard DT (or DE, depending) instead of the NT role he'd filled the last few years, and his run stop and pass rush numbers took a dive—he was below average for players listed as a 3-4 DE in run stop percentage and generated QB pressures about half as frequently as Suh by Pro Football Focus's count. That said, he did have two interceptions, seven passes defended, and two forced fumbles—career-best numbers in all categories.
Those numbers could recover some if he moves back to his two-gap DT role, but the Lions' line last year was built around Suh leveling fools in pass rush and performing at a high level in run downs. Ngata has always been more of a fulcrum than a wrecker, and that isn't likely to change much in his 31-year-old season.
Ngata is a stopgap here, but in the NFC North where the Vikings are a flaming garbage sex boat (but Teddy might be the truth!) and the Bears are right there with them, that might be enough. Meanwhile, anyone want to see Peter King tent his khakis over management taking a crowbar to a franchise staple?