The first wave of free agency became what would be perceived by many fans as a low tide involving the Los Angeles Rams. No marquee signings were made and the Rams had a rather tranquil start to the 2023 cycle.
But the Rams still have a chance to make a late splash — as one of the fastest and most consistent pass rush artists remains available.
Heavy NFL senior reporter Matt Lombardo rolled out his listings of the five best free agents still remaining in this current free agency cycle on Thursday, March 30. Shockingly, Yannick Ngakoue has yet to be asked to help bolster someone else’s pass rush.
“It is a bit surprising that Ngakoue, who has surpassed at least 5.0 sacks per season over the past three years, remains available,” Lombardo said.
Ngakoue Still Speedy & Consistent Despite Multiple Stops
For Ngakoue, he’s unfortunately heading toward playing in his sixth NFL city in a career that began in 2016.
However, he’s zipped through offensive tackles as one of the faster speed rushers in the league when called upon. And the result has been Ngakoue consistently being a threat to surpass eight sacks.
Even on his fifth NFL franchise the Indianapolis Colts, the 28-year-old Ngakoue still proved he can generate pressure and get after the quarterback.
“During the 2022 campaign, Ngakoue generated 44 pressures to go with 9.5 sacks, as one of the Colts’ most dominant front-seven defenders,” Lombardo wrote.
In fact, his sack total in Indy tied for his third-highest total in a single season — as he’s produced that same number in 2018 with his first team the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also got his sacks in 2022 while playing and starting in 15 games.
But here’s the proof behind his consistency: In every season of his career, Ngakoue has always ended the year with eight sacks or higher. And his highest mark was the 12 he produced in his lone Pro Bowl season of 2017.
Ngakoue Wouldn’t be Too Costly
Ngakoue wouldn’t command the kind of revenue that Javon Hargrave or Daron Payne got. He shouldn’t come with a hefty price tag — especially this late into the 2023 free agency cycle.
Lombardo believes that the former third rounder out of Maryland would qualify more in a “prove it” scenario for his next team.
“At this stage of free agency, and of Ngakoue’s career, there is a chance that he winds up signing a one-year prove-it deal and could prove to be a bargain for a contending team looking for pass-rush help,” Lombardo said.
Count the Rams as still needing that extra help next to Aaron Donald.
The edge rush room no longer has veteran and the team’s sack leader Leonard Floyd, who was released before the start of free agency. Super Bowl 56 members Terrell Lewis and Justin Hollins were also waived during the season. Michael Hoecht remains as one of the edge rush options having moved out of his natural interior defensive lineman spot.
The Rams could still use the draft to address this position. As it is, head coach Sean McVay mentioned at the NFL Owner’s Meeting how the Rams plan to pivot toward the more needed areas for 2023 — in this case offensive line, edge rusher and cornerback — first in the 2023 NFL Draft. Several mock drafts have listed the Rams starting with an edge rush option — with one of the more recent ones from ESPN analyst Jordan Reid predicting the Rams will take Felix Anudike-Uzomah of Kansas State first.
But Ngakoue has to be worth going the veteran route. His speed next to “A.D” would bring a tidal wave for the Rams.