The deal signed by Ndamukong Suh with the Detroit Lions on Tuesday not only locked up the draft's top defensive player, but it could serve as the measuring stick for Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata's next contract.
In the last year of his contract with the Ravens, Ngata would be one of the most sought-after players in free agency. According to a league source, the Ravens haven't approached Ngata about an extension. But Suh's deal would appear to be a reasonable starting point.
The second player overall in the 2010 draft, Suh signed a five-year, $68 million contract that includes $40 million guaranteed. Ngata, who is considered one of the top defensive players in the NFL, could command a five-year deal in the $70 million to $75 million range with more than $40 guaranteed.
Asked about an extension for Ngata, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said, "We do not talk about contracts."
Fresh off his first Pro Bowl appearance, Ngata was rated as the fifth-best player in the league by NFL Network's Brian Baldinger. Ngata was ranked as the top defensive tackle last month by Indianapolis center Jeff Saturday.
"I don't want to speak out of turn, but nobody would disagree with the fact that Haloti Ngata is a guy that we have every intention of making a Raven forever," coach John Harbaugh said at the NFL owners meetings in March. "You can't say in this league nothing is certain obviously, but I know Haloti wants to be a Raven and I know he wants to do a long-term contract just as soon as he possibly can."
The Ravens are currently handcuffed in signing Ngata to an extension because of the "30 percent rule" in the uncapped year. That means a player's salary can't increase from 2009 to 2010 or beyond more than 30 percent of the 2009 salary. But the Ravens haven't spoken to Ngata about the parameters of an extension once that rule is lifted.
Harris placed on injured reserve
The Ravens placed cornerback Walt Harris on injured reserve and filled his roster spot by signing Chris Hawkins, an undrafted rookie cornerback out of LSU who was recently released by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Harris, 35, struggled to pass the team's conditioning test. He said he had a sore Achilles tendon. Harris then frequently missed practices this past week.
"Walt was really disappointed that he wasn't able to get healthy in practice," Harbaugh said after Friday's practice. "That was the toughest thing. He feels like he's close. He's coming off the [torn ACL] injury from last season. When I talked to him this morning, his goal is to go back and really get with trainers and get himself right where he feel like he can play this year. But he knows that he's not there right now."
Hawkins, who had a workout with the Detroit Lions before the Ravens, had been conducting his own personal training camp.
"A lot of guys don't make it. I thought I was one of those guys [because] I didn't get drafted," Hawkins said. "I've just been working out every day. So while everybody else was at camp, I was treating myself like I was at camp. It was 102 degrees out there one day. I was trying to stay in shape."
Birk, Mason return to practice
Center Matt Birk was removed from the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list Friday morning. Birk, 34, who had minor elbow surgery this offseason, suited up to practice on the team's eighth day of training camp.
"I'm sure Matt will be a little sore because it was his first practice," Harbaugh said. "But it was good to see him in there."
That leaves four Ravens on the PUP list: linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (leg), running back Matt Lawrence (knee), safety Ed Reed (hip) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee).
The Ravens also got another offensive starter back in wide receiver Derrick Mason. He had missed two days of practice after spraining his right ankle.
Gaither sidelined … again
Offensive tackle Jared Gaither is out of practice with spasms between his shoulder blades and upper back, according to Harbaugh.
"He can't get into his stance and really play right now," Harbaugh said. "So we have to work that out somehow."
Gaither missed Thursday afternoon practice and Friday's morning session. He has also missed time in camp with spasms in his lower back.
Rookie sixth-round pick Ramon Harewood is filling in for Gaither on the first-team offense.
"It's a day-to-day process. I'm still learning," Harewood said. "I'm just going out there to see what I can and can't do. For me, every day I just come out here and try to work on the small things to get better. I'm not looking at first, second [teams]. I'm just getting reps."
McGahee has swelling on knee
Willis McGahee did not practice Friday morning for the first time since training camp began because he has "a little bit of swelling" on the knee, Harbaugh said. McGahee's left knee was wrapped.