Heading into the offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders‘ need on the defensive line was obvious. The team only notched 21 sacks in 2020, which is not a recipe for success. The solution for the issue was clearly not on the roster and it appears the team is ready to make a splash.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Raiders are signing Baltimore Ravens free agent Yannick Ngakoue.
Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal confirmed Rapoport’s report.
This is a huge move for the Raiders. The team has been desperate for a consistent pass rusher and that’s exactly what they’d get in Ngakoue. In his five years in the NFL, he’s never had less than eight sacks in a season. Las Vegas didn’t have a single player get eight sacks last season so Ngakoue will come in and immediately be the team’s best pass rusher. It’s clear now that the Raiders didn’t want to take a chance and draft a pass rusher. They were looking for a proven difference maker and they finally found one.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Ngakoue is signing for two-years at $26 million. That is an excellent value for the Raiders.
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Ngakoue Played Under Gus Bradley
One thing that had to be really appealing for the Raiders when looking at Ngakoue is the fact that he used to play under new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. During his rookie season in Jacksonville, Bradley was the head coach. Ngakoue had eight sacks in his only year under the coach.
When Bradley took the Raiders job, he made it clear that the team needed to upgrade their defensive line. By signing Ngakoue, the position group will now receive a big boost. During last year’s draft, the Raiders were rumored to be interested in the 2018 Pro Bowler. They never ended up pulling the trigger on a trade. That patience has pulled off as now Las Vegas has landed Ngakoue without having to give anything up.
What This Means for Raiders Defensive Line
Ngakoue is now without question the Raiders’ best defensive lineman. He’s a very good pass rusher and will be one of the two starters at defensive end. With him coming to town, the team might need to shuffle things around.
The Raiders used a top-five draft pick on Clelin Ferrell just two years ago. Odds are that he’ll start opposite Ngakoue. Where does that leave Maxx Crosby? He’ll probably be more of a situational pass rusher. Ferrell will likely line up at defensive tackle quite a bit. The Raiders like Ferrell and Crosby but it’s clear that they needed more help. Adding Ngakoue should also help them in a major way. Now that Crosby has another strong pass rusher on the roster, that’s going to take a lot of attention and pressure off of him.
Ferrell will probably never develop into an elite pass rusher but he can be an elite run defender. Those types of players are very important. The Raiders can now focus on letting Ferrell do what he’s good at while Ngakoue and Crosby are unleashed on opposing quarterbacks.