Raiders Predicted to Bring Back Former Sack Leader on 1-Year Deal

yannick ngakoue

Getty Former Raiders DE Yannick Ngakoue.

The Las Vegas Raiders moved on from big-name players Derek Carr and Darren Waller under the notion that the team would use that extra money to spend on the defense. It has been weeks into free agency and the team has only made a series of smaller moves. There has yet to be a big splash signing and there likely isn’t one coming with the top names all off the market.

The biggest splash the team made last season was trading Yannick Ngakoue to the Indianapolis Colts for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin. That move gave them the money to sign Chandler Jones. Ngakoue led the Raiders with 10.0 sacks in 2021 and thought he finally found a long-term home in Las Vegas. Though Ngakoue isn’t a perfect fit in Patrick Graham’s defense, he’s one of the most consistent pass rushers in the NFL. In seven seasons, he has never had less than 8.0 sacks. Maxx Crosby was the only Raiders player from 2022 that had more than 5.0 sacks. Ngakoue remains a free agent and could be signed to a reasonable contract. Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report predicts the Raiders to sign the veteran defensive end to a one-year contract:

Instead, Ngakoue could find his way back to the Las Vegas Raiders. He was traded by the current regime last offseason in exchange for cornerback Rock-Ya Sin. That move came just after Las Vegas signed pass-rusher Chandler Jones to a massive three-year, $51 million deal.

While Jones did begin to produce late last season, he didn’t have the overall desired impact on the Raiders’ pass rush. He finished with only 4.5 sacks, while Las Vegas had 27 as a team. In 2021, Ngakoue had 10 sacks and 36 quarterback pressures while playing opposite Maxx Crosby.

Adding Ngakoue Makes Sense for Raiders

Graham typically likes to have bigger defensive ends who can defend against the run while also rushing the passer. Ngakoue is a small defenisve lineman at 6-foot-2, 245 pounds. Due to that, he can be a liability in the run game. It wouldn’t make much sense for the Raiders to sign him to a contract like the one they gave Jones.

However, if they can get him on a one-year deal in the $10 million range, that could be a smart move. It remains to be seen if Jones can still rush the passer. Ngakoue isn’t perfect but the one thing he knows how to do is rush the passer. Having him as a situational pass rusher would be an upgrade over what the team currently has.

Raiders Have yet to Sign a DE in Free Agency

The Raiders haven’t done anything to improve the pass rush this offseason. The team hasn’t even signed a single defensive end. Unless Las Vegas is planning to use a high draft pick on a defensive end, they appear set to roll with Crosby and Jones as the starting defensive ends next season. Crosby is one of the best pass rushers in the league but Jones only had 4.5 sacks last season.

The Raiders likely have plans to add a defensive end or two in the draft but should at least take a look at a player like Ngakoue. Even if they have faith that Jones can bounce back next season, they still need to add depth.

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