The Detroit Lions have found their replacement for Ndamukong Suh. With Suh off to the Miami Dolphins, the Lions traded for Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in a move that was announced just minutes before free agency officially opened on Tuesday.
At this point, the compensation in this deal has not been confirmed, but Peter King reports that the Lions are going to send a fourth- and fifth-round pick to the Ravens in exchange for Ngata. There's been a lot of speculation recently that Ngata was just going to be cut, but clearly the Lions didn't want to take a chance on him ending up elsewhere.
So, what exactly does this move mean for the Lions? In the short term, Ngata is due $8.5 million for 2015. That's the final year of his deal, so the Lions could work out a contract extension with the 31-year-old in order to make sure he's locked up beyond 2015.
On a more general basis, this move raises a lot of questions about what scheme the Lions will run going forward on defense. There's already been a lot of talk about the Lions moving to a 3-4 defense, and Ngata was the ninth-best 3-4 defensive end on Pro Football Focus last season despite only playing in 12 regular-season games. (He was suspended for four games for taking Adderall.)
3-4 or not, Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is obviously familiar with what Ngata can do given that they were previously together in Baltimore. The Lions needed to do something to rebuild their depth at defensive tackle, and getting a player like this is certainly a step in the right direction:
Haloti Ngata was our 9th highest graded 3-4 DE last year, and has never finished a season with a negative grade
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 10, 2015
It remains to be seen how Ngata will fit into the Lions defense, and it remains to be seen what the Lions defense as a whole will look like going forward. However, it's safe to say that the Lions had a plan in place for replacing Suh, and this is likely just the first step in that plan.