Bears Named Ideal Trade Partner for ‘Forgotten’ 2nd Round Pass Rusher

Ben Banogu

Getty Ben Banogu has been named a prime trade candidate for the Colts.

The Chicago Bears are set to enter the 2022 season with Robert Quinn and Al-Quadin Muhammad as their top two edge rushers, but there are questions surrounding both.

Quinn reported to training camp on July 26, but uncertainty about whether or not the team may trade him remains, while free agent acquisition Muhammad has been sidelined with an “unknown injury” this offseason, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, and has yet to practice with the team.

Behind Quinn and Muhammad, third-year pass rusher Trevis Gipson has the potential to fill in as a starter, but after Gipson, the Bears’ depth at edge gets a bit murky. There’s veteran Mario Edwards Jr., fifth-round rookie Dominique Robinson, and UDFAs Sam Kamara, Charles Snowden and Carson Taylor.

Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report thinks the Bears could easily address this lack of depth on the edge by trading for Indianapolis Colts pass rusher Ben Banogu.

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Banogu: Former 2nd Rounder Who Hasn’t Panned Out Yet

Banogu, 26, was a redshirt freshman at Louisiana-Monroe for one year in 2015, and he transferred to Texas Christian University the following year. After sitting out the 2016 season (NCAA rules required him to forfeit his sophomore year of eligibility), he became a three-year starter at TCU from 2017-2019. He led the Horned Frogs with 18.0 tackles-for-loss, 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 13 starts as a senior.

The Colts selected Banogu in Round 2 (49th overall) in 2019, and after playing in all 16 games as a rookie, he finished with a forced fumble, three tackles-for-loss, five QB hits and 2.5 sacks (stats via Pro Football Reference). He hasn’t registered a sack in the two seasons since.

He has dealt with a few minor injuries, but ultimately, has fallen behind on Indianapolis’ depth chart behind first-rounder Kwity Payne, second-rounder Dayo Odeyingbo and veteran Yannick Ngakoue. Due to his familiarity with Chicago’s first-year head coach Matt Eberflus, who served as Indy’s defensive coordinator for four years, Sobleski thinks the Bears should give him a shot.

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Banogu Could Also Be Cut

“Ben Banogu, whom Indianapolis selected in the second round of the 2019 draft, has become the forgotten man,” Sobleski wrote on July 26. “The fact that he’s missed 15 games over the last two seasons with zero sacks is a good reason why. Injuries have slowed him, but he still presents some intriguing traits as a flexible and quick edge-rusher when he’s on the field. Maybe room doesn’t exist for him in the Colts locker room, but the Bears could use another piece to implement Eberflus’ system.”

In 34 NFL games, Banogu 19 tackles, (three for loss), 2.5 sacks and 11 pressures, but he played just 12% of the team’s defensive snaps in 2021, which is concerning. Anytime a former second-round pick is a healthy scratch in Year 3, there’s cause for concern, and considering Banogu was a healthy scratch in Eberflus system, it seems highly unlikely the Bears would send any draft capital to Indianapolis for him.

Andrew Moore of Sports Illustrated noted that while Banogu is “a prime trade candidate for the Colts,” the edge rusher will also “need to have the camp of his life to save his career.”

It sounds as though Banogu could also be cut, and if that happens, he’d definitely be worth a look for the Bears. But he wouldn’t be worth trading for unless disaster strikes.

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