Did Ravens owner violate NFL's tampering rules?

Steve Bisciotti may have violated tampering rules talking about Haloti Ngata, but it's up to Detroit to pursue it. AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Steve Bisciotti's comments about defensive tackle Haloti Ngata have drawn questions about whether the Baltimore Ravens owner violated NFL tampering rules.

Bisciotti said Wednesday that he wouldn't rule out the return of Ngata (pictured), who was traded to the Lions last month and is under contract with Detroit for 2015.

"We are going to miss him, but I haven’t heard anything about him getting an extension from Detroit," Bisciotti said. "As far as I know, he could be a free agent a year from now, and we may be watching the second coming of Haloti Ngata. Who knows? I never give up hope that we couldn’t get him back."

Tampering has been among the hot topics in the NFL recently because of the squabble between the New York Jets and New England Patriots over cornerback Darrelle Revis. There was also a tampering issue last year, when Cowboys owner Jerry Jones acknowledged he took a call from Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and did not report it to Minnesota. Jones wasn't penalized for the conversation.

It's unknown whether the Lions will file a complaint considering the Ravens' ties with Detroit coach Jim Caldwell, and there is some gray area as to whether Bisciotti broke the rule.

Here is what the NFL's anti-tampering policy states:

"Any public or private statement of interest, qualified or unqualified, in another club's player to that player's agent or representative, or to a member of the news media, is a violation of the Anti-Tampering Policy."

Bisciotti made his comments on a conference call to season-ticket holders. According to a Ravens official, Bisciotti believed he was talking only to fans and Gerry Sandusky, the radio play-by-play announcer for the team who moderated the town hall-like forum.

It didn't help matters that the Ravens' official Twitter account made it more public by tweeting Bisciotti's comment. But in the context of Bisciotti's conversation with fans, it seemed harmless. A season-ticket holder asked Bisciotti about what led to the trading of Ngata, and Bisciotti essentially relayed to his fan base that there were no hard feelings and Ngata is always welcome back.

Did Bisciotti make a comment about a player under contract with another team? Absolutely. Was Bisciotti intentionally reaching out to Ngata to persuade him to return to the Ravens in 2016? I don't think so.

But whether this becomes an issue depends on if the Lions believe Bisciotti was tampering with one of their players.