NFL free agency started out with a bang today as many unexpected trades went down before the 4 p.m. deadline hit. The most important to Baltimore Ravens fans being Haloti Ngata getting sent to the Detroit Lions for a fourth and fifth-round selection in this year’s draft.
It was definitely quite a shock to me as it is another of the original four leaders of the Ravens locker room leaving the team. The other three being Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs. Suggs is the only one who remains on the Ravens current roster.
After winning Super Bowl XLVII, the Ravens have definitely gone through an interesting transition period. The face of the franchise for 17 years in Ray Lewis has retired. Ball-hawking safety Ed Reed left the team in free agency after winning the Super Bowl. Now Haloti Ngata, who has played for the Ravens in all nine of his years in the NFL, is off to Detroit for two mid-round picks.
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Ngata was a huge locker room presence and while soft spoken, he was a huge leader in the Ravens locker room. He truly embodied the quote “speak softly and carry a big stick.” As a long time fan of the Ravens, I have a strong sentimental attachment to Ngata. He was one of the most underrated players in the NFL year after year. He took his lunch pail to work and did his job every day of the week.
The Ravens also lost a vocal leader in the locker room in wide receiver Torrey Smith. They have had some very bad recent publicity with multiple Ravens getting arrested prior to the 2014-2015 season. Smith was one you would never have to worry about. He was a man of high character and also a very talented deep threat. He will always be apart of the Super Bowl winning Ravens team.
Torrey instantly became one of my favorite players in a very memorable Pittsburgh Steelers match-up his rookie year. After dropping the possible game-winning touchdown pass with 36 seconds left, he looked to be one of the Ravens fans least-liked players. However, he showed truly in that game what “Play Like A Raven” really means. With ten seconds left, he caught a 27-yard touchdown pass to seal the win against the bitter rival Steelers to cap off a 95-yard game-winning drive.
Ngata and Smith have both left long-lasting memories as Ravens, but none more important than their locker room charisma. Their locker room leadership will be sorely missed. After Ray Lewis and Ed Reed left, the Ravens had a subpar season with an 8-8 record. However, even with the losses of two fantastic leaders, this is not time for Ravens fans to panic.
Keep Calm and Trust Ozzie.
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