Ever since the Las Vegas Raiders traded away Khalil Mack, they’ve been looking to find a new star pass rusher. The team used a top-five draft pick on Clelin Ferrell in 2019 but he’s developed into more of a run-stuffer than a sack artist. This offseason, the Raiders found the closest thing to a Mack replacement when they signed Yannick Ngakoue.
The former Jacksonville Jaguars Pro Bowler has never had a season with less than eight sacks. He immediately comes in and is the Raiders’ best pass rusher. What also has to be exciting for the team is that he’s really happy to be there. In fact, Ngakoue hinted on Twitter that he doesn’t plan on play for any other team.
The Raiders only signed him to a two-year deal for $13 million a season. That’s all they could really afford due to the lower salary cap this year. Ngakoue likely signed the smaller deal in hopes that he’ll land a big extension with the team when the salary cap is back to normal. If he plays well and leads the team in sacks, then he could be getting an extension before the end of next season. Based on Ngakoue’s demeanor, the hope will be that he finishes his career in Las Vegas.
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Ngakoue Was a ‘Raider All Along’
Ngakoue was born in Washington D.C. and played college ball at Maryland. There’s seemingly no reason for him to be so stoked on the Raiders. However, he believes that he was meant to eventually join the team.
“I feel like I was a Raider all along. It just took me a while to get here,” Ngakoue said Friday.
The Raiders have been desperate for another elite pass rusher since the days of Mack. If he can wreak havoc against opposing teams, fans are going to adore him. In addition to his ability on the field, he’s proving to be a leader early on. Ngakoue revealed where he got his leadership skills from.
“My mom always told me to lead,” Ngakoue said. “And that responsibility of being a core guy to help get this defense moving, I take that with pride. That’s why I try to be the first person in the building each and every day. Just to lead by example.”
Gus Bradley Praises Ngakoue
As fortune would have it, new Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley used to coach Ngakoue back when he was a rookie in Jacksonville. It’s been several years since the two worked together but the coach is very high on his former player.
“He’s a very, very prideful man,” Bradley said of Ngakoue Friday. “I think what I am seeing him do more now is he’s helping everybody. He’s helping younger players. He knows what he needs to do, and I see him sharing more of those things with some of the younger players.”
Ngakoue will be one of the Raiders’ most important players going forward and a positive sign that he’s taken on a leadership role.