Yannick Ngakoue

Bears DE Yannick Ngakoue Out For Season

The Bears will be without one of their starting defensive ends for the season’s remainder. Yannick Ngakoue, who signed a one-year deal to join the team this summer, will not return this season due to the ankle injury he suffered Sunday.

Matt Eberflus said Wednesday the veteran defensive end sustained a broken ankle and will need surgery, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets. This marks an unfortunate end to Ngakoue’s latest contract year, and it strips the Bears of a key defensive option as they make a late run toward a possible wild-card berth in the NFC.

Ngakoue, 28, is already on team No. 6. Though, a Bears team that ranked last in sacks in 2022 ponied up a $10.5MM contract for the former Jaguars, Vikings, Ravens, Raiders and Colts sack artist. Ngakoue has not missed a game this season. Despite Ngakoue suffering a late-game injury Sunday, Eberflus indicated he played through it. Given the severity of this malady, it is understandable that plan will not continue.

This will also end Ngakoue’s impressive sack streak. The ex-Jaguars third-round pick entered this season as the only active player to have posted at least eight sacks in each of the past seven seasons. The NFL nomad will fall short of that benchmark now, having totaled four sacks in his first Bears season. Ngakoue will also finish with a career-low seven quarterback hits; he had never previously finished with fewer than 11. The eighth-year vet had also displayed durability with his other teams; he has never missed more than two games in a season and has been sidelined for only four throughout his career. The Maryland alum will soon match that total.

The Bears, who traded Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn in 2022, finished with just 20 sacks last season. They have 21 through 13 games this year. That total still ranks 31st, though Chicago upped the ante at the trade deadline by acquiring Montez Sweat. Outflanking the Falcons’ offer, the Bears sent the Commanders a second-round pick for Sweat. The recently extended pass rusher has 3.5 sacks as a Bear and 10 overall this season. While Ngakoue led the Bears in sacks, the Sweat trade reduced his standing with the team. Sweat will now get in early work as the team’s pass-rushing anchor.

Chicago added DeMarcus Walker and Rasheem Green this offseason. Walker worked as a starter before the Sweat trade, and the $7MM-per-year player stands to return to a first-string role now. The Bears sit one game out of the No. 7 spot in the NFC playoff race, though the pursuit is littered with teams tied at 6-7 alongside the Packers, who currently hold the final wild-card slot. Chicago will hope to see Walker and Green effectively complement Sweat going forward.

Panthers Viewed Yannick Ngakoue Price As Too Steep; Bears Considered Justin Houston

Several weeks after the veteran edge rusher market’s ice began to thaw when Leonard Floyd and Frank Clark found new homes, Yannick Ngakoue and Justin Houston reached agreements to continue their careers. The Bears and Panthers, respectively, signed the veteran sack artists; each team, however, considered both players.

Rumored to be eyeing a veteran edge player opposite Brian Burns for the past two offseasons, the Panthers stood down on that front in the wake of Haason Reddick‘s 2022 exit. They did not do so this year, giving Houston a one-year deal worth $6MM guaranteed. The Panthers gave Houston more money compared to the 12-year veteran’s second Ravens pact (one year, $3.5MM), but they still did not want to meet Ngakoue’s asking price.

Ngakoue ended up collecting $10MM guaranteed from the Bears, and ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler notes the Panthers viewed this as too steep. In Houston, the Panthers will go with a player six years older but one who matched Ngakoue’s 2022 sack total (9.5) during his second Ravens season. Houston also loomed as a Bears consolation prize of sorts, with Fowler adding he was Chicago’s backup plan in case the team could not move Ngakoue’s asking price down to a level it deemed reasonable.

The Bears had eyed Ngakoue for a while, but Fowler adds the team spent time talking the seven-year vet down from a $13MM-per-year price point and had believed he wanted a multiyear deal. When Ngakoue changed agents earlier this year, a multiyear pact was indeed believed to be on his radar.

Marcus Davenport signed a one-year, $13MM deal ($10MM guaranteed) earlier this year, and Ngakoue’s production dwarfs the former first-rounder’s. Ngakoue is the only player riding a streak of seven straight eight-plus sack seasons. The former third-round pick began that surge to start his career in 2016. That said, Ngakoue has been viewed as a pass rush specialist of sorts; his issues in the run game undoubtedly led to the former Jaguars draftee/franchise tag recipient needing to wait until August before catching on somewhere.

Ngakoue, 28, will anchor the Bears’ edge-rushing corps. He had said previously landing with a surefire contender would not be a requirement for his latest free agency. While Ngakoue sought a deal that matched his 2021 Raiders AAV — from a two-year, $26MM contract that ended up being sent from the Raiders to the Colts — he still outperformed Floyd, Clark and Houston on the market. The Bears are not eyeing a designated pass rusher role for the well-traveled sack artist, with Matt Eberflus confirming (via The Athletic’s Adam Jahns; subscription required) he views Ngakoue as an every-down player.

Former Raiders defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, whom Eberflus regards as a mentor, gave the second-year Bears HC a strong Ngakoue endorsement, Jahns adds. Marinelli, who coached Ngakoue in 2021, also factored into the veteran edge choosing Chicago. Of course, the Bears’ eight-figure guarantee likely provided the biggest push here.

As the Bears and Panthers made key additions to their edge corps, Jadeveon Clowney remains unsigned. While Robert Quinn, Melvin Ingram and Carlos Dunlap are also unattached, Clowney is much younger — at 30 — and lines up as the top outside rusher available.

Bears, DE Yannick Ngakoue Agree To Deal

The top edge rusher still on the market has found a home. Yannick Ngakoue has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Bears, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link).

Schefter adds that the contract includes $10MM guaranteed, with a maximum value of $10.5MM. Ngakoue made out very well for himself financially considering how tepid his market appeared to be for much of the offseason. It does not come as a surprise, however, that he will head to the Windy City in 2023.

The Bears – a team which recorded a league-worst 22 sacks last season – were named as a team to watch in June. A report from that time indicated Ngakoue was seeking between $8MM and $10MM on his next contract, a figure which outpaces what Leonard Floyd and Frank Clark were able to secure (in terms of base compensation) from the Bills and Broncos, respectively. Bears GM Ryan Poles has been rather public about his ongoing desire to land an upgrade on the edge, and this move has allowed that to come to fruition.

Ngakoue, 28, had originally stated his desire to sign a multi-year deal with a contending team. Securing a long-term commitment from any team has proven elusive to date in his career, though. The former second-rounder has played for five teams in his seven years in the NFL, remaining productive at every stop. Ngakoue has recorded at least eight sacks every year, but his struggles against the run have limited his overall effectiveness and thus his ability to find a stable home.

The Maryland alum changed his stance last month, indicating he did not see the chances of his next team to compete for a Super Bowl as a make-or-break factor in his decision-making process. After a 3-14 season last year, the Bears certainly qualify as a team which is not expected to be among the heavyweights in the NFC. Despite head coach Matt Eberflus having a background with the Colts, where Ngakoue played last season, the pair have never worked together.

The Bears entered Thursday with the most cap space in the league, holding over $28MM in available funds. A sizeable investment in Ngakoue will eat considerably into that total, but if he can remain consistent as a pass-rushing presence, he will prove to be an effective addition as Chicago looks to take a needed step forward on defense.

DE Yannick Ngakoue Not Prioritizing Contenders?

All the attention around the NFL was understandably focused on the running back market yesterday, but a number of veterans at other positions have been done little favors during the 2023 offseason. The edge rush market has remained stagnant through to the onset of training camps.

That has left Yannick Ngakoue on the open market despite a track record of performances as a sack artist. The 28-year-old has played for five different teams during his seven-year career, spending the 2022 campaign with the Colts. He led the team with 9.5 sacks, but it has been known for some time that another move will be required when he joins his next club.

Ngakoue had previously stated an intention of signing a multi-year deal with a contending team. Doing so would allow the former second-rounder to find some stability during his NFL career, while also providing an established pass-rushing contribution in the process. Ngakoue has recorded at least eight sacks every year in his career to date. His stance on his next destination appears to have shifted, however.

“Any team in the NFL is an ideal landing spot for me,” the Maryland product said during an appearance on the Jim Rome Show (video link). “It’s a blessing to be able to work any job in the NFL. Being able to go and practice with a team, go through walk-throughs, go through film study, it’s a blessing. It doesn’t matter what organization in particular.”

A report from last month indicated Ngakoue was seeking between $8 and $10MM per season on his next contract, a figure he is unlikely to be able to reach. The one-year pacts signed by fellow veteran edge rushers Leonard Floyd and Frank Clark checked in at $7MM and $5.5MM, respectively, in terms of base compensation. Those marks are likely more realistic for Ngakoue and other free agents like Justin Houston, Robert Quinn and Jadeveon Clowney with training camps just around the corner.

Movement on the edge market can be expected soon, given the depth of options still available and the degree to which contributors can thus be had on relatively inexpensive deals. Ngakoue will be a name to watch in that regard, especially if he is willing to consider essentially any potential destination.

Latest On DE Yannick Ngakoue

The veteran edge market thinned out recently with deals being signed by Leonard Floyd and Frank Clark, but other pass rushers are still available at this point. One of those is Yannick Ngakoue, who figures to be a target for several teams still eyeing additions to their defensive fronts.

The 28-year-old has one of the league’s best track records with respect to sack production, something he has maintained during his nomadic time following his trade away from the Jaguars in 2020. Ngakoue is still angling for a multi-year deal from his newest team in a bid to find some career stability, and he acknowledged his preference for joining a contender earlier this offseason.

With respect to finances, the former second-rounder’s asking price is likely the primary obstacle to a deal getting finalized. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that Ngakoue was seeking between $8MM and $10MM as of May. The base value of Floyd’s pact with the Bills ($7MM) as well as Clark’s with the Broncos ($5.5MM) check in below that rate, though each one-year contract includes incentives. Attaining a longer investment, especially at a higher rate, would be a tall order at this point in the offseason for Ngakoue.

The Maryland product should still have suitors, especially if his contract terms come down. Biggs names the Bears as a team which would be well-suited to add Ngakoue, who has accumulated 65 sacks in his career and registered no fewer than eight in any given season. Chicago was relatively quiet in free agency and the team eyed the draft as an avenue for bolstering its pass rush. While three defensive tackles were added in April, no true edge rushers were drafted. A move amongst the remaining free agents would come as little surprise.

In Chicago or elsewhere, Ngakoue should be able to land a notable role as a sack artist this offseason. He recently changed agents to help achieve that goal, though teams may not need to proceed with much urgency during the break before training camps open in July. Especially if his asking price remains higher than the current market likely values him at, he may find himself in search of a new deal for the foreseeable future.

DE Yannick Ngakoue Changes Agents

Movement finally took place in the edge rusher market this week, with the Bills and Broncos respectively bolstering their defenses by adding Leonard Floyd and Frank Clark. Younger than each while riding an unmatched active sack streak, Yannick Ngakoue remains a free agent.

The NFL’s only player with at least eight sacks in each of the past seven seasons, Ngakoue entered the offseason as one of the top free agent defenders. He resided behind only Marcus Davenport among edge players on PFR’s top 50 free agents list, and although DeAndre Hopkins and Dalvin Cook have hit the market, the well-traveled defensive end still has a case as the top player left unsigned.

Ngakoue is making an effort to accelerate his market. The seven-year veteran signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The famed power broker will now attempt to land Ngakoue a quality deal — likely with a sixth NFL team. Adisa Bakari had previously represented Ngakoue.

After a four-year Jaguars run, Ngakoue has since bounced to the Vikings, Ravens, Raiders and Colts. He has not played for the same team in consecutive years since his Jacksonville stay ended via a tag-and-trade transaction. Known as a pass rusher with suboptimal run defense skills, Ngakoue profiles as a quality complementary edge but certainly could make a case to be the top presence on certain teams.

Going into his age-28 season, Ngakoue is coming off a 9.5-sack slate for the Colts. He served as Indianapolis’ lead sack artist last season and teamed with Maxx Crosby in Vegas, registering 10 QB drops in 2021. While Ngakoue has spent three seasons with Gus Bradley (in three cities), he has also produced with other defensive coordinators. He set a career high with 33 QB hits for the 2018 Jaguars and forced an NFL-leading six fumbles for the ’17 Jags, helping that team to the AFC championship game.

This year’s top UFA edge defenders have not enticed teams to commit multiyear deals. Prior to the ice thawing on the veteran wing last week — via the $7MM and $5.5MM guarantees given to Floyd and Clark — Davenport agreed to a one-year, $13MM deal ($10MM guaranteed) with the Vikings. That said, Arden Key and Samson Ebukam, the latter of whom replacing Ngakoue in Indianapolis, did well for themselves in March. Ebukam fetched a three-year, $24MM deal ($10.8MM guaranteed), while Key signed a three-year, $21MM accord that came with $13MM locked in.

Given Ngakoue’s career path and three-month free agency stay, he might need to settle for another short-term deal and follow the Jadeveon Clowney route. But ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler indicates the former third-round pick is still looking for a multiyear commitment (Twitter link). Ngakoue’s pass-rushing production warrants such a commitment, and unlike Clowney, injuries have not been an issue (four missed games in seven years). Clark and Floyd’s deals also did well to set a veteran edge market, and while Ngakoue will likely look to eclipse Floyd’s guarantee, it will be worth monitoring to see if he holds out for multiyear agreement.

Latest On DE Yannick Ngakoue

A number of veteran edge rushers still find themselves without a contract for 2023, despite the post-draft free agent period being more than one month old at this point. One member of that group, Yannick Ngakoue, provided an update on his situation and what he is prioritizing on his next contract.

The 28-year-old most recently played for the Colts following his trade from the Raiders. He racked up 9.5 sacks, making 2023 another season in which he posted considerable production in the pass-rush department. The team moved in a different direction this offseason, however, confirming in April that they would not re-sign him.

That decision left the former second-rounder in search of yet another new home. Ngakoue has spent time with five different teams since entering the league in 2016. The former second-rounder has posted no fewer than eight sacks in every season, though his struggles in run defense has limited his effectiveness and thus teams’ willingness to make a long-term commitment to him. Team success, rather than finances, now appear to be at the top of his priority list.

“I definitely want to play for a contender, play for a team and an organization that wants to win a Super Bowl,” Ngakoue said during an appearance on Sirius XM (video link). “That’s one of the things on my agenda, to be able to help and contribute to that. Hopefully I can get some great interest from a contender.”

The Maryland product could provide an intriguing edge rush boost to a team already boasting at least one established contributor in that department. Ngakoue’s 65 career sacks place him in a tie for seventh in the league since his arrival, so he should have at least a few suitors to choose from even in what has become a depressed market at the position this spring. He is remaining patient in his approach with respect to long-term fits, though.

“I think in the financial aspect, that has everything to do with my agent and whatever team I decide to go to,” Ngakoue said, noting the added appeal of a multi-year deal if one were to emerge. “I just feel like instead of doing business I’m looking to have a stable home.”

Such a viewpoint is understandable considering the degree to which the former Jaguars selection has bounced around the league. If he is indeed able to secure a deal with long-term implications, he could prove to be an effective add to a team eyeing a Super Bowl run in 2023.

Bears Eyeing Pass Rush Help

The Bears haven’t done much to address their pass rush this offseason, so the team is naturally in the market for some reinforcement on the edge. According to Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun Times, the Bears are still shopping around for pass rush help.

“We’re interested in a lot of guys at all positions right now,” head coach Matt Eberflus said. “We’re just excited about being able to look at those guys and potentially add as we go through camp and getting closer to the season.”

The Bears finished last season with a league-low 20 sacks, and the team’s only notable addition on the edge was DeMarcus Walker, who had a career-high seven sacks for the Titans last season. The team also returns some depth at the position; Trevis Gipson has compiled 10 sacks over the past two seasons, and Dominique Robinson showed some promise during his rookie campaign.

“I’m focused on the guys we have here,” said defensive line coach Travis Smith. “That’s not my job to go look outside. That’s for Mr. Poles and [Eberflus] to decide. If they come ask me a question, I’ll offer my opinion on it. But the guys that we have, the 15 guys in the room that we have, coaching every day to get better.”

As Finley notes, the Bears have plenty of connections to the remaining crop of free agent edge rushers. Justin Houston played for Eberflus when the two were in Indianapolis, while Yannick Ngakoue played under Smith when they were in Las Vegas. Bears GM Ryan Poles also has connections to Melvin Ingram and Frank Clark from his Kansas City days.

The Bears are willing to give at least one of the current free agent edge rushers a one-year deal, per Finley. The team will probably wait out the market as they look at add to the position on their financial terms.

Checking In On Edge Rusher Market

The late-spring signing period that transpires every year — due to the compensatory formula deadline passing — has produced a number of deals. Rock Ya-Sin, Foster Moreau, Randall Cobb, Donovan Smith and a few quarterbacks (John Wolford, Trevor Siemian, Brandon Allen) agreed to terms over the past week and change.

This year’s deadline, however, has not led to a thaw in the edge defender market, which is free agency’s deepest at this point. A number of accomplished veterans — some still in or close to their prime — remain unsigned. Teams often use OTAs, minicamp and training camp to determine where roster flaws are, leading to summer veteran additions. As of last week, no such moves affect teams’ 2024 compensatory picks. Some clubs will also pick up some cap space after June 1, when they will see the money saved from previous cut designations emerge.

A few longtime starters figure to receive another chance before teams configure their final depth charts. Ahead of OTAs, here are the top options available:

Frank Clark. Age in Week 1: 30

The Chiefs cut Clark in March, separating from their most prominent edge player of the Patrick Mahomes era. While Clark did not live up to the five-year, $104MM pact he signed upon being acquired from the Seahawks in 2019 and ultimately took a pay cut to return in 2022, he did continue producing in the playoffs. Clark’s 2.5 sacks during this past postseason give him 13.5 for his career. In the official sack era (1982-present), that total ranks third. Of course, the ex-Seattle second-rounder was arrested twice in 2021 and never eclipsed eight sacks during a Chiefs regular season. He remains a starter-caliber player.

Jadeveon Clowney. Age in Week 1: 30

Perennially unable to secure a long-term deal, the former No. 1 overall pick will likely end his NFL career without landing one. Injury trouble has plagued Clowney, who missed eight games during his two-year Browns tenure. Since the Texans traded Clowney to the Seahawks in August 2019, he has taken his time before reaching a free agency accord. Clowney signed with the Titans in September 2020, inked his first Browns deal in April 2021 and re-signed in May of last year. Clashes with Cleveland’s coaching staff will lead him elsewhere. Clowney only totaled two sacks and 12 QB pressures last season, though he collected nine sacks opposite Myles Garrett in 2021.

Leonard Floyd. Age in Week 1: 31

With the Rams moving on from their four-year, $64MM agreement in March, two teams have now cut Floyd in his career. The Bears picked up his fifth-year option but, back when teams were allowed to do this, ditched it free of charge a year later back in 2020. Floyd has both displayed durability and production since that Chicago separation, showing a new gear in Los Angeles. Teaming with Aaron Donald and Von Miller certainly boosted Floyd’s chances of drawing a favorable matchup, but he kept going after Donald’s shutdown last season. Four of Floyd’s 9.5 sacks came during the six games Donald missed. Floyd’s 31 QB pressures ranked 17th last season.

Markus Golden. Age in Week 1: 32

Coming off the worst season in this contingent, Golden is two years removed from an 11-sack campaign. The former second-round pick agreed to a one-year extension that covered the 2023 season, but the Cardinals’ new regime ditched that contract in March. Golden has three double-digit sack seasons on his resume, though they have come in nonconsecutive years. An early-career ACL tear threw the Mizzou alum off track, but Golden has missed just one game over the past four seasons.

Yannick Ngakoue. Age in Week 1: 28

The second-ranked edge defender in PFR’s free agent rankings back in March (behind only Marcus Davenport), Ngakoue has consistently produced sack numbers while generating a reputation as a hired gun and run-game liability. He did not come close to reaching the May compensatory deadline in the past, however, being franchise-tagged in 2020 and signed to a two-year, $26MM Raiders deal in March 2021. The Colts took on that contract last year, via a straight-up trade for Ya-Sin, and Ngakoue reeled off a 9.5-sack season. The former Jaguars third-round pick is the only player to post at least eight sacks in each of the past seven seasons.

Dawuane Smoot. Age in Week 1: 28

One of the bright spots of the Jaguars’ Urban Meyer year, Smoot finished the 2021 season with 30 pressures. The former third-round pick accumulated 22.5 sacks from 2019-22, finishing that stretch on a two-year deal worth $10MM. He likely would have a third contract in place — either from the Jaguars or another team earlier in free agency — had a December ACL tear not occurred. The Jags did not re-sign Arden Key or use a first- or second-day pick on an edge rusher. While that potentially keeps the door open to Smoot returning when cleared (or on the homestretch toward clearance), he remains an intriguing complementary option for teams.

Kyle Van Noy. Age in Week 1: 32

Although Van Noy has operated as a hybrid of sorts, his sack consistency qualifies him for such a list. Van Noy’s one-year Chargers deal ended up requiring considerable edge work, with Joey Bosa lost for much of the season. As he had done for years in New England, Van Noy made an impact in a pass-rushing capacity. He finished with five sacks, marking the fifth time in the past six seasons he has reached that number. Van Noy’s age and versatility make him one of the better options left. After signing with the Chargers in May of last year, Van Noy expressed interest in staying on another accord.

Mid-30s wing

Carlos Dunlap. Age in Week 1: 34

The Chiefs waited until July to add Dunlap last year, bringing in the longtime Bengals sack artist — on a one-year, $3MM pact — to replace Melvin Ingram as a Clark complement. Kansas City has since added younger UFA Charles Omenihu and used first-round picks on edges (George Karlaftis, Felix Anudike-Uzomah) in each of the past two years. The Bengals’ all-time sack leader, Dunlap finished with four last season after amassing 8.5 with the Seahawks in 2021. The Chiefs used the 13-year veteran on 39 defensive plays in Super Bowl LVII.

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Colts Won’t Re-Sign DE Yannick Ngakoue

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.