Colts Lose Another Pro Bowl Talent to Season-Ending Throat Injury

Colts DE Yannick Ngakoue

Getty Yannick Ngakoue #91 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates after sacking Patrick Mahomes

The hits keep coming for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2022 season. On December 31 in a late-week roster move, the Colts announced defensive end Yannick Ngakoue would be placed on injured reserve, effectively ending his season with what the team designated a “throat” injury.

Colts Defensive Injuries Piling Up

For the Colts, this is the second defensive starter placed on injured reserve this week when it was announced starting cornerback Isaiah Rodgers was placed on IR. The Colts have seen their defensive depth depleted this season due to injuries. The Colts have also lost All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard to IR, along with safety Armani Watts and defensive tackle Tyquan Lewis.

In a corresponding move to account for Ngakoue’s newly available roster spot, the Colts announced that defensive end Kameron Cline had been activated from the practice squad to the active roster. Cline was signed to the Colts in 2020 as an undrafted free agent from the University of South Dakota. He had previously appeared in one game this season against the Philadelphia Eagles on November 20, recording one tackle in the loss.

This announcement that Ngakoue would be placed on IR comes as a surprise as his name did not even appear on the injury report until Friday December 30. Ngakoue reportedly was a full participant in Friday’s walk-through practice. On Saturday when it was announced Ngakoue would be placed on IR it was revealed that Ngakoue sustained a hit to his throat during the Monday Night Football matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers on December 26.

According to Mike Chappell of the Indy Star, the injury sustained apparently did not improve throughout the week and after consulting with team doctors it was decided that Ngakoue will require a procedure for a full recovery.

Ngakoue’s 2022 season and future

Ngakoue was drafted in 2016 out of the University of Maryland to AFC South division rivals, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ngakoue played out the majority of his rookie deal before bouncing around to five different NFL franchises over the last four years including the Vikings, Ravens and Raiders.

In May 2022, the Indianapolis Colts brought Ngakoue into the fold in an off-season trade with the Las Vegas Raiders. The Colts shipped off cornerback Rock Ya-Sin as part of the deal and hoped that Ngakoue would become a key piece on the defensive line rotation.  Ngakoue entered the season with just one year left on his deal and has certainly delivered for the Colts.

In his 15 games on the season, Ngakoue has recorded a team-high 9.5 sacks, anchoring a unit that is on pace to potentially break the Colts franchise record for sacks in a season. In addition to his sack numbers, Ngakoue has tallied 29 tackles on the season, including 15 quarterback hits, 7 tackles for a loss and a forced fumble.

With his stellar production on the field on the field this season, and the fact that he is entering the offseason as an unrestricted free agent, the question comes if the Colts will resign the productive defensive lineman. The final year of his deal was worth around $5 million, but according to market projections from Spotrac, Ngakoue is in line for a new deal worth almost $15 million. Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report believes Ngakoue’s production this season is worthy of a contract extension of that value.

“Pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue is one player who deserves to stay,” Knox wrote.

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