Bears Should Double Up on Pass Rushers With $65 Million DE, Former Pro Bowl Edge

Emmanuel Ogbah, Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders

Getty Emmanuel Ogbah #91 of the Miami Dolphins reacts after getting a sack.

The Chicago Bears left half-measures behind when acquiring Montez Sweat, and the same strategy may be appropriate with regards to finding him pass-rushing partners.

Chicago liked Kansas defensive end Austin Booker enough to swap a fourth-round pick in 2025 for the rights to draft him in the fifth round last month, but his ascendence to a starting role this year — or even the next — would be ahead of schedule. Courtney Cronin of ESPN on Wednesday, May 22, suggested a one-year reunion with Yannick Ngakoue as a stop-gap while Booker hones his skills.

The Ngakoue pitch has been popular because of how much sense it makes. He played on the team last season and for head coach Matt Eberflus back in 2022 when he was running the Indianapolis Colts‘ defense. Ngakoue also figures to be affordable and willing to sign a one-year deal. That said, he missed four games last season due to an ankle injury and put up the worst campaign of his career by far, tallying only four sacks.

The current free agent market won’t afford Chicago the opportunity to take one big swing to fill the vacant edge position for the next couple of years while Booker builds himself up. A single player isn’t available who allows the Bears to accomplish that.

However, Chicago can take two half-measures by adding Ngakoue and bringing in Emmanuel Ogbah to beef up the edge rush opposite Sweat — and two half-measures equal a whole measure, at least sort of.

Ogbah spent last four seasons as a member of the Miami Dolphins, where he tallied a total of 24.5 sacks across 57 games.

Bears Lack Top-End Talent, Depth Off Edge Opposite Montez Sweat

Matt Eberflus, Yannick Ngakoue

GettyChicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.

Matt Bowen of ESPN on Monday pitched the Las Vegas Raiders as the top team fit for Ogbah and the Cleveland Browns as the most logical situation for Ngakoue. However, his arguments in both cases can be applied to the Bears’ pursuit of both players simultaneously.

“There’s still room for a rotational pass-rusher [in Vegas], which opens the door for Ogbah,” Bowen wrote. “He logged five sacks in Miami last season, and he has totaled 42 over his eight seasons in the league. You can never have too many pass rushers when you play in the same division as Patrick Mahomes.”

“The Browns have edge depth, led by 2023 Defensive Player of the Year Myles Garrett, but this move would be more about adding a designated pass rusher in Ngakoue,” Bowen continued. “Signing Ngakoue to a one-year deal would give defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz another rusher to scheme for in true passing situations.”

Bears Can Complement Montez Sweat by Committee Via Signing Emmanuel Ogbah, Yannick Ngakoue

Montez Sweat, Bears

GettyChicago Bears defensive end Montez Sweat.

Both the Raiders (46 sacks) and the Browns (49 sacks) were far more adept at rushing the passer than the Bears (30 sacks), per, who were 31st in the NFL in that category in 2023. Chicago was even worse the year prior, finishing dead last in the league with 20 sacks.

Either bringing Ngakoue (29 years old) back or adding Ogbah (30 years old) probably doesn’t move the needle for the Bears all that much. However, adding both of them creates depth in the position group and doubles Chicago’s chances of one of the two hitting a big year and recording double-digit sacks.

Sweat made his first Pro Bowl last season on the strength of a 12.5-sack effort. Even if Ogbah and Ngakoue simply combine for 10 sacks between them, Chicago has a great chance to climb out of the basement in a statistical category synonymous with ending drives, forcing turnovers and winning football games.

Cost is the primary concern as far as this proposed strategy, though the Bears can probably afford it if they are of a mind to pursue both players. Chicago has $22.7 million in salary cap space as of Wednesday.

Ogbah is coming off of a four-year deal worth $65.4 million total in Miami, but won’t command the same kind of annual average salary given his age and the injury issues he suffered in 2022, missing eight of 17 regular season games. Ngakoue played in Chicago for $10.5 million last season and will likely cost less the second time around.

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