Browns Urged to Add $26 Million Sack Specialist to Edge Rotation

Yannick Ngakoue, Colts

Getty Edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, celebrates sacking quarterback Kenny Pickett of the Pittsburgh Steelers during a game in November 2022.

The Cleveland Browns have added not one, but two edge rushers to replace Jadeveon Clowney. Some are now suggesting they sign a third.

On Friday, May 26, Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report pitched the idea that the Browns pick up defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, most recently of the Indianapolis Colts. The argument is that Ngakoue, who has never produced fewer than eight sacks in any of his seven NFL seasons, would be a monster add as a rotational pass rusher alongside Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, and behind Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith.

“The Browns and Ngakoue had ‘mutual interest’ back in 2020, according to Mary Kay Cabot of, and revisiting that interest would make sense,” Knox wrote. “Garrett was responsible for 16 of Cleveland’s 34 sacks last season, and no other player had more than three. Adding Smith and Okoronkwo will help tremendously, but a team can never have too much pass-rushing depth.”

Browns Struggled Mightily to Rush Opposing QBs Last Season

Yannick Ngakoue, Colts

GettyEdge rusher Yannick Ngakoue, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, celebrates after making a play during a game against the Minnesota Vikings in December 2022.

The Browns were inept at pressuring opposing quarterbacks in 2022, even despite the second consecutive 16-sack effort from Garrett who also produced 38 QB pressures on the season, per Pro Football Reference.

Cleveland’s trade with the Minnesota Vikings to acquire Smith added another 10 sacks and 37 QB pressures to the defensive huddle, while the addition of Okoronkwo padded those numbers by five more sacks and 17 QB pressures.

Ngakoue racked up 9.5 sacks and 27 quarterback pressures for the Colts last season, after tallying 10 sacks and 36 QB pressures for the Las Vegas Raiders the year prior. His presence in pass-rushing situations would be unquestionably valuable to a team that tied with the Green Bay Packers for 27th-place in the category last season.

Yannick Ngakoue Adds Big Value to Browns on Team-Friendly Contract

Yannick Bears PFF Landing Spot

GettyDefensive end Yannick Ngakoue, formerly of the Las Vegas Raiders, remains a free agent as of May 30, 2023.

Ngakoue, a Pro Bowler with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017, played out the final season of a two-year contract worth $26 million in Indianapolis last year. Spotrac projects Ngakoue’s market value at $14.8 million annually over the life of a four-year contract.

Four years is probably too many to give Ngakoue, who has been an NFL journeyman despite his continued success at the premium position of pass rusher. That said, the defensive end still has two more full seasons to play before turning 30 years old.

Furthermore, Smith restructured his deal after joining the Browns and is under contract for just one more year at the price of $11.75 million. Smith will turn 31 just ahead of the season opener and had a slow finish to what was a Pro-Bowl campaign in Minnesota in 2022. A serious back injury cost Smith all but one game of the 2021 season, and he would be a risky bet for Cleveland to make long-term.

Okoronkwo, who is the same age as Ngakoue, signed a three-year deal worth $19 million, but he isn’t a pure pass rusher. Ngakoue is and, other than Garrett, would figure to be the Browns’ best chance at getting to opposing quarterbacks regularly in 2024 and beyond, whether Smith is back with the team or not.

All that said, four years at nearly $15 million per season is still too steep of a price to pay for Ngakoue. But a three-year deal at 75%-80% of that annual figure starts to make some sense for a team that has invested heavily in its defense in an effort to win now.

Cleveland will need to move some money around to make an Ngakoue signing happen, as the franchise had just shy of $5 million in salary cap space as of May 30.

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