Yannick Ngakoue has made several stops throughout his still-young NFL career. The 28-year-old pass rusher is currently on the free agent market and looking at playing for his sixth team in the last five seasons. For a player who was a Pro Bowl pass rusher in 2017 and piled up at least 9.5 sacks in each of the last two seasons, Ngakoue's miles are a bit surprising and he's now looking for some stability as he carefully chooses his next destination.
"For me, personally, I've been to a couple of stops and instead of doing these visits, I'm ready to have a stable home and just to be able to be on a multi-year deal, I can be able to ground myself and start on things, really focusing on my family and trying to start a family, things like that," Ngakoue told SiriusXM NFL Radio, via NFL.com.
Not only is Ngakoue looking for a place to put down some roots, but he'd like to be in a situation where he's also contending for a championship.
"At this stage in my career, being in my later 20s, I definitely want to play for a contender, play for a team and organization that wants to win a Super Bowl," he said. "That's one of the things on my agenda is to be able to help and contribute to that. Hopefully, I can gain some great interest from a contender."
Ngakoue initially came into the league as a third-round draft choice of the Jaguars in 2016 out of Maryland. He spent the first four seasons of his career in Jacksonville before the two sides had a falling out, which led to him being traded to the Vikings in the summer of 2020. Ngakoue was only with Minnesota for a couple of months before he was traded again to the Baltimore Ravens. He'd then sign with the Raiders in March of 2021 and was traded by Las Vegas last offseason to the Colts where he played the 2022 campaign. Despite that dramatic turnover from team to team, Ngakoue has kept up his production, which should be appealing to teams across the league looking for pass-rushing help.
As for which teams could use Ngakoue's services, let's take a look at a handful of landing spots.
This one's obvious, right? If Ngakoue is prioritizing a situation where he's best positioned to win a championship, the defending Super Bowl champions -- and the current betting favorite to win it all again -- have to be mentioned. Kansas City is going through a youth movement at the defensive end position, selecting George Karlaftis and Felix Anudike-Uzomah in the first round in each of the last two drafts. They also signed Charles Omenihu in free agency, so they may already be set at the position, but Ngakoue could be a luxury addition if his market doesn't heat up. Money could also be an issue here with the Chiefs only having about $1 million in space, per Spotrac. Still, if Ngakoue wants to win, the Chiefs would naturally be on his radar.
I don't think the Panthers will be mistaken for a Super Bowl contender in 2023, but they are building a solid foundation after selecting Bryce Young with the No. 1 overall pick and play in an easy division which makes a path to the postseason plausible. This could also be a reunion for Ngakoue with head coach Frank Reich, who he played under in Indianapolis for a time last season before Reich was let go. With the Colts, he totaled 9.5 sacks in 15 games. He'd join a blossoming Panthers defense that already boasts Brian Burns and Jaycee Horn, and would be a solid situational pass rusher. Carolina also has the second-most cap space in the NFL at the moment.
Similar to Carolina, the Bears aren't exactly filling Ngakoue's wishes of jumping on with a contender, but they are an up-and-coming team with a promising quarterback in Justin Fields and a defensive-minded head coach in Matt Eberflus. Eberflus has even noted that the team is interested in adding some pass-rushing help, so from a need standpoint, Ngakoue makes sense for Chicago. It's just a matter of whether or not Chicago makes sense for Ngakoue.
While playing free agency matchmaker, Aidan Hutchinson and Detroit is an offseason favorite to take the leap and become a true contender this coming year, so that could check Ngakoue's box. Whether or not the Lions -- who have the fifth-most cap space -- want to give Ngakoue a deal that allows him to put down roots, however, is something that could halt this potential partnership.paired Ngakoue with the Detroit Lions and it does make plenty of sense. The Lions could look to add a pass rusher opposite of