- Hitting free agency, Yannick Ngakoue’s had a challenging 12 months
- Ngakoue is about to find out if he made a mistake with the Jags
- Which teams could pursue the star free agent?
Three teams, two trades, and one venomous Twitter argument later—we’ve finally arrived at the much publicized free agency of talented defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. It’s been a crazy whirlwind of events for the 25 year old sack artist, so let’s take a quick look back at his last 10 months.
Last April, right before the NFL Draft, Ngakoue and Jacksonville Jaguars senior vice president of football administration Tony Khan engaged in a very public conversation about the circumstances with which the team would trade the defensive end. Ngakoue thought he would have been out of Jacksonville right when the offseason began last March, but Khan defended the team’s patient stance, stating that they wouldn’t just give him up for nothing.
Ngakoue would basically have to wait until the end of training camp leading up to the 2020 season to get his wish, but he was finally dealt to the Minnesota Vikings in late August. After playing 6 games for the Vikings, Minnesota then shipped him off to Baltimore, where he closed out the season with the Ravens.
Remarkably, Ngakoue has recorded exactly 8 sacks in each of the last three NFL seasons.
After his public fallout with the Jaguars, which was initiated by a demand for a lucrative long term contract, Ngakoue will soon find out if he was correct to bet on himself for the last year plus.
Which teams would be interested in bringing him in?
The Bengals are usually not known as a team who frivolously opens up their wallets to spend big in free agency. After finishing dead last in the NFL in sacks in 2020, and in the bottom ten in sacks each of the last three seasons, they might be motivated to change up their miserly ways.
Cincinnati uncharacteristically doled out a handsome (for them) free agent contract to cornerback Trae Waynes last year. They might feel inclined to earmark a bunch of their cap space (projected to be fifth most of any team) for Ngakoue to boost their lackluster pass rush.
This pairing would make sense for both sides. Ngakoue could get his money, and the team could obtain sorely needed talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Tennessee is not projected to have much wiggle room with regards to available funds to spend under the cap, but could be a dark horse team in the pursuit of Ngakoue.
Despite their defensive reputation under former NFL linebacker and current head coach Mike Vrabel, the Titans finished third to last in sacks in the league last year.
Tennessee would be an unlikely candidate to provide Ngakoue with the type of contract he was believed to be seeking with the Jaguars, but the longer he remains unsigned, the more likely a landing spot Tennessee becomes. They signed pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney a few days before Week 1 last season, and could snag Ngakoue late in the offseason if his agreement terms are not met.
Even though the Chargers are unfortunately stuck in the AFC West with the perennial powerhouse Kansas City Chiefs, they have an attractive window to supplement their roster with talent while young quarterback Justin Herbert is on his rookie contract.
Pairing Ngakoue with Joey Bosa would instantly catapult the Chargers into a serious playoff threat, as opposing quarterbacks could conceivably be under siege from both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Los Angeles is already scheduled to pay Bosa an average of $26 million over the next five seasons, so it’s unlikely they’ll break the bank for Ngakoue in free agency, but they could still give him a notable offer. Los Angeles is projected to have $34 million available in cap space.