Many Detroit Lions fans were upset that the team let Haloti Ngata hit free agency and land with the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. When word came out that he signed just a one-year, $2.6 million deal, many believed the Lions were being overly cheap.
But according to a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Lions actually matched that offer, and Ngata simply chose to play with the Eagles instead:
The #Lions offered the same money, but Ngata wanted to play in the same upfield, 1-gap scheme… which #Eagles DC Jim Schwartz does. Philly made sense as a landing spot. https://t.co/LRIVRy1VfQ— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 16, 2018
There’s a few things to unwind here. First, obviously, is the fact that Ngata chose to join the Eagles despite the fact that he said he’d like to return to Detroit earlier in the offseason. To be fair, though, Ngata said that before the Lions had hired Matt Patricia as their head coach.
Secondly, this report suggests that the Lions defense will be more two-gap based, which is a staple of a 3-4 defense. It’s interesting that Ngata has little interest in playing in that sort of system, considering he did a lot of two-gapping back in Baltimore. However, he apparently felt more comfortable with how the Lions used him in the past three years under defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.
So despite trying to bring Ngata back, the Lions find themselves in a rough situation at defensive tackle. They have brought in Quinton Dial and Ricky Jean Francois for visits to potentially fill Ngata’s role, but Detroit has yet to make a move on either player.
UPDATE: As Dave Birkett noted, during his introductory press conference, Ngata also mentioned the Eagles’ success as part of the reason he chose Philly. “It just excited me that the Super Bowl champs wanted me,” Ngata said. “And so just to have another chance to be able to go back and win again, it’s an exciting feeling.”