Detroit Lions: Revisting the Haloti Ngata trade

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 08: Haloti Ngata #92 of the Detroit Lions celebrates a second quarter sack on Cam Newton. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 08: Haloti Ngata #92 of the Detroit Lions celebrates a second quarter sack on Cam Newton. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

Revisting the 2015 Haloti Ngata trade to see how the Detroit Lions and other teams involved directly and indirectly fared.

Back in 2015, than Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew made a trade with the Baltimore Ravens to acquire Haloti Ngata after losing Ndamukong Suh to free agency. The Lions  received Haloti Ngata and a seventh round pick and in exchange the Ravens received the Lions’ fourth and fifth round pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

With Ngata leaving and signing with the Philadelphia Eagles this year, I wanted to look back at the 2015 trade and see how everyone involved fared.

Detroit Lions

Ngata spend the past three seasons with the Detroit Lions. Though his time in Detroit might’ve been underwhelming, he proved to be impactful both on and off the field. He was a strong mentor to the younger defensive lineman; being described as a strong locker room presence. He was also the Lions’ 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.

Ngata was a key cog to the Lions’ run defense through those three years. To put it in perspective, after he went down with a season ending injury last year, the run defense suffered. Before the injury, they only allowed 74.6 rushing yards per game and post injury it sky rocketed to 129.7 yards. It showed how much Ngata meant to the Lions’ defense through his strength and leadership.

The seventh round pick was sent in a packaged deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Lions traded defensive end George Johnson and the seventh round pick and acquired Tampa Bay’s fifth round pick, where the Lions drafted fullback Michael Burton.

Burton was heavily used in 2015, afterwards his role started to diminish. By the end of the 2016 season, he was benched and became a healthy scratch. The Lions waived Burton and he ended up signing with the Chicago Bears.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens used the fifth round pick they obtained and used it to trade up in the second round with the Arizona Cardinals to draft Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams. Williams was considered the top tight end prospect in the 2015 draft and a receiving threat the Ravens desperately needed. When they traded up to draft him, they thought they were getting a steal.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. In 2016, he suffered a season ending knee injury. Because of the injury, he had a disappointing 2017 season. He only recorded 15 catches and one touchdown and was regulated to blocking duties. Remains to be seen what will happen to Williams. The Ravens spent a first round and third round pick on tight ends, Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews respectively, in this year’s draft.

The Ravens spend the fourth round pick on Kentucky defensive end Za’Darius Smith. Smith was named Most Valuable Defensive Player in the Shrine Game and pegged to help the Ravens right away on defense. Smith has recorded 10 sacks in his career so far, but 5.5 of them came in his first year. At first he played a limited role, but through injuries he has been given oppurtunies to start. With aging players and free agency losses, he is being primed for a breakout 2018 season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers received George Johnson and a seventh round pick through a trade with the Lions. George Johnson was a serviceable player for the Bucs in the 2015 season, but he suffered an ACL tear that sidelined him for the 2016 season. Through a cost saving move, the Bucs released Johnson in 2017.

With the seventh round pick, they drafted Hawaii fullback Joey Iosefa. Iosefa was waived and never saw the field with the Bucs.

Arizona Cardinals

I have included the Arizona Cardinals since the Ravens made a trade with them, using one of the picks they received from the Lions.

The pick they acquired from the Ravens, they selected Missouri defensive end Markus Golden. Golden broke out for the Cardinals in 2016 after recording 51 tackles, 12.5 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles. Golden tore his ACL in 2017, but by some accounts he was off to a slow start that season. It’s up in the air for Golden. Will he return to his 2016 self or is the injury going to slow his progression.


Ngata proved that he was not only valuable on the field, but off of it as well. He was probably the most important piece for the defensive line; stopping the run game and invaluable mentorship towards the younger players. Unfortunately, the Burton project didn’t work out at the time.

The Ravens took Williams in hopes he would solve their receiving problem. Williams may never be the same after his injury. By all accounts, he is on the roster bubble after the Ravens drafted two tight ends in this year’s draft.

Smith looks like a good selection. If he able to put everything together and take advantage of the playing time he might get, he could be a solid addition for the foreseeable future.

The Bucs got a year of service from George Johnson, but other than that; they didn’t benefit from the trade.

Next: Will the Lions be Detroit's next champion?

The Cardinals might benefit as long as Golden recovers from his injury and shows 2016 wasn’t a fluke. If he is able to, the Cardinals have a star on their defense.