Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata will miss the rest of the regular season after violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, the Ravens announced today (via Twitter). The league has suspended Ngata four games for failing a drug test.
“I made a mistake, and I own this,” Ngata said in a statement, according to the team (Twitter links). “I took Adderall and take full responsibility for doing this. I am deeply sorry and broken up over this. I let down my family, my teammates, Ravens fans, and myself.”
Losing Ngata, who has been a Pro Bowler for five consecutive season, is a significant blow for a Ravens defense that has ranked ninth in DVOA this year, per Football Outsiders. As Pro Football Focus’ grades show (subscription required), Ngata has been his usual effective self on defense this season, playing well against both the run and the pass. The longtime Raven has even grabbed a couple interceptions this season, as well as defending a career-high seven passes.
At 7-5, the Ravens are tied with several other AFC clubs, and will likely have to win at least three of their final four games to have a shot at a playoff berth. If they do sneak into the postseason, the Ravens would be able to activate Ngata, whose four-game suspension expires at the end of the regular season.
Assuming Baltimore doesn’t earn a playoff berth, there’s a possibility – albeit a slim one – that Ngata has played his last game with the club. 2015 is the final year of his contract, and the former first-round pick, who turns 31 in January, is on the books for a $16MM cap hit. Reworking or extending Ngata’s deal to reduce the impact on next year’s cap seems like a realistic scenario.