The Baltimore Ravens finally were able to land Yannick Ngakoue six weeks after the Pro Bowl edge rusher took a pit stop in Minnesota. A day after Ngakoue was traded from the Vikings to the Ravens, Ngakoue admitted he wanted to return to the DMV area in 2020 when he was previously seeking a trade out of Jacksonville.
"We were trying to get things done, but at the same time, everything happens the way it's supposed to happen, and I love the way it happened now," Ngakoue said in his introductory press conference with the Ravens Friday. "I got my feet wet, [and] I was able to play some games in Minnesota. I have a lot of great relationships with people over there now -- people who I've networked with and connected with.
"Most guys who were in my position could have been sitting out until this time and getting that phone call with no games under their belt. So, the fact that I have games under my belt, it's not like I'm coming in with cold feet. I'm coming in hot already. You just tell me what play we have to run, and I'm running it."
Baltimore tried to acquire Ngakoue for months as the Ravens pursued a pass rusher leading up to the season. Ngakoue appeared to be an ideal fit given he was from the DMV area and played college football at Maryland. Ngakoue is tied for fifth in the NFL in sacks and joins a Baltimore defense that is tops in the NFL in points per game allowed (17.3) and is tied for third in the league with 22 sacks.
The Ravens are on their bye week this week, so Ngakoue will have a week to learn the defensive scheme, which should be tailored to his strengths of rushing the passer. Ngakoue will also be reunited with Calais Campbell, who was his teammate from 2017 to 2019 in Jacksonville. The duo combined for 61 sacks over the past three seasons.
Ngakoue is playing out the final year of his deal with the Ravens, as the Jaguars placed the franchise tag on the star pass rusher before he agreed to a restructured deal of $12 million upon his trade to Minnesota. Ngakoue won't commit to a long-term deal in Baltimore, but the Ravens have a recent history of getting players that they acquire prior to the trade deadline signed, as they did with Marcus Peters last year.
"Things like that I leave up to God, man," Ngakoue said. "I had no idea that I would even be here having these conversations with you guys. I was all packed in in Minnesota with all my stuff, and things just happen sometimes. If it's meant for me to be here for a long time, then that's what it is.
"I'll be more than excited to be back home; this is where it all started for me with my journey."