The Cleveland Browns know Myles Garrett needs a pass-rush partner and Yannick Ngakoue might be the answer.
Ngakoue will be a free agent this offseason and could be the piece the Browns need opposite of their All-Pro to bolster their pass rush. Ngakoue has 65 sacks in 110 games over his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Las Vegas Raiders, Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts, with 19.5 of those coming over the last two seasons.
The Browns will have to fiddle with their cap space to make the signing realistic but Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz believes it’s a move the Browns could make.
“The Browns will sign free agent Yannick Ngakoue to a big contract in another attempt to get a bookend pass-rusher who can help take attention away from Myles Garrett,” Schatz wrote. “They might need to restructure Garrett’s contract and free up short-term cap space to make it happen, but Ngakoue had 9.5 sacks in 2022 with the Colts.”
Ngakoue will have his suitors this offseason. ESPN listed Ngakoue as one of the top 50 free agents this offseason, with the former Pro Bowler coming in at No. 32.
“Ngakoue had 9.5 sacks in 2022, bringing his total to 65 over eight NFL seasons. Given his subpar tape as a run defender, however, he should be targeted as a situational pass-rusher, a role in which he can use his top-end traits to win on the edge: burst off the ball, hand usage and the ability to bend around offensive tackles. We know NFL teams value edge rushers, and so Ngakoue will have a market, even if he tops out as a pass-rusher on nickel snaps.”
Browns Need to Upgrade Defensive Line
Garrett was terrific last season but he didn’t have a ton of help when it came to making opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable. Garrett collected 16 sacks in 16 games, tying his own Browns single-season record. The rest of the team managed 18 — with his defensive line partners notching just 10. That was led by defensive tackle Taven Bryan, who had three.
Jadeveon Clowney, Garrettʻs former counterpart at defensive end, will almost certainly not be returning to the Browns after a late-season outburst burnt his bridges with the franchise. On top of that, the Browns need to invest in some help at defensive tackle, which was a glaring weakness for Cleveland last season.
“That is certainly a position group that we do value and we will continue to value, no different than the offensive line on the offensive side of the ball,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry said in his season-ending press conference. “We will continue to invest in it and make those decisions at the appropriate time.”
New Browns DC Jim Schwartz Wants to Give Garrett Answers
The Browns’ defense as a whole was inconsistent last season but the hiring of Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator should breathe some new life into the unit. Schwartz knows what kind of weapon Garrett is and has some ideas on how to up his production.
“It is my job to give him some answers and to be able to put some pieces scheme-wise and personnel-wise around him to allow him to be free and more productive,” Schwartz said. “When I say more productive, what?  sacks? That answers your question; the bar is set really high for a good reason.”
Having a capable player opposite of Garrett would be a huge step in the right direction. Garrett was one of the most double-teamed pass-rushers in the NFL last season and having someone like Ngakoue on the other side would shift how offenses could prepare for the Browns.