A number of veteran edge rushers went unsigned during the initial waves of free agency, and will now wait until after the draft to land their next deals. One player falling into that category is Yannick Ngakoue, who is poised to be on the move once again.
The 28-year-old joined the Colts last offseason when the Raiders traded him for corner Rock Ya-Sin. That continued Ngakoue’s trend of bouncing around the league, after he had prior stints in Jacksonville, Minnesota and Baltimore. The move marked the third time that he played under defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, and paid off in at least one statistical department.
Ngakoue led the Colts in sacks in 2022 with 9.5, something which comes as little surprise given his prowess as a sack artist throughout his career. The former third-rounder has collected no fewer than eight sacks in any single season, and has racked up 65 in 110 games in the NFL. However, he totaled 44 pressures per PFF, the second lowest total of his career, while delivering an underwhelming performance against the run. That has led the team in a different direction to fill his spot.
“We lost Yannick Ngakoue,” Bradley recently said, via Joel Erickson of the Indy Star. “He was a tremendous player for us. That’s the NFL. There’s some times you bring new guys in, and they have to step up, and every year’s a new year with the team.”
The Colts added ex-49er Samson Ebukam on a three-year deal worth up to $27MM. Ebukam will be tasked with providing a consistent pass rushing presence off the edge, but his run defense will set him apart from Ngakoue as the team looks to take a needed step forward in all areas in 2023. For the latter, Bradley’s remarks confirm he will need to head elsewhere and quite probably join a sixth different team in the post-draft free agent market.
Ngakoue – who expressed optimism in the summer about Indianapolis representing a long-term home – is joined by the likes of Frank Clark, Leonard Floyd and Robert Quinn as veteran pass rushers who remain unsigned. That may not be the case for much longer, but in any event, he will not be back with the Colts in 2023.