Bears Learn Asking Price for Pro Bowl Sack Machine: Report

Yannick Price Tag Bears

Getty Yannick Ngakoue is said to be looking for as much as $10 million on his next contract.

The Chicago Bears now know the asking price for one of the top remaining veteran pass rushers on the free agent market, should they decide to pursue him for their roster before the official start of training camp on July 25.

According to Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune, veteran defensive end Yannick Ngakoue — who has been a fan-favorite target for the Bears throughout the offseason — has been looking to get paid “in the range of $8 million to $10 million per year” on his next contract. The 28-year-old has also previously said he wants to sign a “multi-year deal” with a contender that can offer him a “stable home” for the foreseeable future.

“One source with a team monitoring the edge rusher market said, as of a month ago, Ngakoue was seeking a contract in the range of $8 million to $10 million per year,” Biggs wrote in his June 15 article. “Recent market activity for [Leonard] Floyd ($7 million base salary) and [Frank] Clark ($5.5 million base) has been below that, and both veterans signed one-year deals.”

Ngakoue, a 2017 Pro Bowler, has been a sack machine for the duration of his seven-year career, never finishing a season with fewer than eight sacks and logging 19.5 over the past two years in his stops with the Las Vegas Raiders (2021) and Indianapolis Colts (2022). While there are questions about his competence as a run defender, he has the proven success as a pass rusher to offer a much-needed boost to the end of the defensive line after the Bears finished with a league-low 20 sacks in 2022.

Bears Can Afford Ngakoue, But Is He a Long-Term Fit?

In essence, Ngakoue’s reported price tag provides a clearer picture of what teams can expect to invest in him if they hope to secure his services for the 2023 season. He is looking to make somewhere between $8 million and $10 million per year on a multi-year contract and wants to plant roots with a contender — or at least a team that believes its title window could be opening up in the next season or two, such as Chicago.

Financially speaking, the Bears can afford an investment on the high end of that range with about $32.5 million in effective cap space left for 2023 and nearly $97 million in 2024. They could realistically offer Ngakoue a two-year, $20 million deal that would put him in the top 25 highest-paid edge rushers in the league, but the bigger question is — with an emphasis on youth — whether the Bears are invested in putting that much money into a veteran who will be pushing 30 by the end of the 2024 season.

General manager Ryan Poles has made some big acquisitions both via trade (D.J. Moore) and free agency (Tremaine Edmunds) in his first two offseasons, but he has also demonstrated an interest in rebuilding the core of the Bears’ roster with drafted talent. Rather than spend big money on an aging player, he might prefer to be patient and see how the current edge-rushing group performs in 2023, then address the problem in the 2024 draft — where he has two first-round selections — if the gamble doesn’t pay off.

What Are Bears’ Other Non-Trade Options at EDGE?

Yannick Price Tag Bears1

GettyDawuane Smoot is another free agent edge rusher who could appeal to the Bears for 2023.

The Bears have continued to hint at their interest in potentially adding another veteran pass rusher to their roster for the 2023 season. Most recently, head coach Matt Eberflus told reporters on June 14 that he believes an edge-rusher addition could be in the cards before the start of training camp on July 25 and confirmed it is “one of the positions we’re looking at and, potentially, we could get that done.”

“We love the guys that are here, of course, but our job is to always make the roster better, right?” Eberflus said. “And we’re always going to be looking to upgrade in certain spots that we need to. The premium positions, of course, are first, and then the roleplayers are second, and that’s our job as GM and head football coach.”

At this point, though, if Ngakoue isn’t part of the plan and the trade market does not present any viable options, what options do the Bears have left to add to the room?

One option could be Dawuane Smoot, a former Jacksonville Jaguar and University of Illinois standout. He is the same age as Ngakoue (28), albeit with less sack production (22.5 career sacks), but he could offer the Bears a reliable veteran to rotate in on pass-rushing snaps. A concern with him is that he tore his Achilles in December and is still working back from the injury; however, his trainer tweeted in mid-May that he is “ahead of schedule” in his recovery.

Otherwise, the free agent options are mostly older players. Justin Houston is unsigned and notched 9.5 sacks last season for the Baltimore Ravens. While he is 34, he has remained remarkably healthy throughout the later stages of his career and could be open to signing a one-year deal to finish out his career. Melvin Ingram (34), Kyle Van Noy (32) and Trey Flowers (30) are also still on the market and — unlike recent Bears castaways Robert Quinn and Al-Quadin Muhammad — could have short-term appeal.


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