With free agency quickly approaching, there are several Yannick Ngakoue landing locations. Ngakoue was originally drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016. Just before the 2020 season started, Ngakoue was flipped to the Minnesota Vikings. After six games in Minnesota purple, Ngakoue was traded to the Baltimore Ravens where he played the last nine games, plus two playoff games.
Ngakoue had eight sacks on the season, making the fifth-straight year he hit the milestone. Only Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack are also on streaks of at least five seasons. However, will Ngakoue stay in Baltimore, or will he wear his fourth different jersey in 12 months?
Yannick Ngakoue Landing Locations No. 1: Cleveland Browns:
Here, Ngakoue stays in the AFC North. In Cleveland, Ngakoue could play second fiddle to Myles Garrett. Ngakoue’s best season, 2017, came when he was alongside Calais Campbell, an All-Pro in 2017. With Garrett’s all-around game and Ngakoue’s niche speed-rushing talent, the Browns could take a massive defensive leap based on their pass-rushing skills.
Baker Mayfield would likely rather have Ngakoue hitting opposing quarterbacks rather than himself.
According to Spotrac, the Browns are 10th in cap space with nearly $30 million available this offseason.
Yannick Ngakoue Landing Locations No. 2: Indianapolis Colts:
The second potential landing spot is a former division rival of Ngakoue’s: Indianapolis. While Indianapolis has superstars in the front seven in the form of DeForest Buckner and Darius Leonard, they lack a star EDGE. Ngakoue could bring tremendous upside to the defense, especially if Justin Houston leaves in free agency. Ngakoue would join an already loaded defense, angling for his second trip to the AFC Championship Game if things go smoothly.
According to Spotrac, the Colts are second in cap space with over $78 million available.
Yannick Ngakoue Landing Locations No. 3: New York Jets:
While the Jets have a strong defensive interior anchored by Quinnen Williams, they have few blue-chip edge talents. Ngakoue fills that role for a team that needs defensive talent. For as bad as the Jets were in 2020, the defense was salvageable most weeks. With an improved offense (anything is better than an Adam Gase offense) and an influx of talented players such as Ngakoue, the Jets could be in position to compete soon.
While Ngakoue is a notably poor run defender (45.8 PFF run defense grade in 2020), run defense is the strength of the New York defense, so Ngakoue would likely play a passing down specialist role for the green side of East Rutherford.
According to Spotrac, the Jets are third in cap space with over $75 million available.
Yannick Ngakoue Landing Locations No. 4: Tennessee Titans:
Another former divisional rival for Ngakoue, the Titans were barren in terms of pass-rushing capabilities in 2020. While the names (Jadeveon Clowney, Vic Beasley, Harold Landry) gave some confidence, Tennessee’s weekly pass-rush bordered on nonexistent for most snaps.
The Titans saw firsthand how impactful Ngakoue can be as he had a strip sack against Tennessee as both a Viking and a Raven in 2020. He has three straight games against the Titans with a strip sack, and he even scored against Tennessee with a scoop-and-score in 2017.
According to Spotrac, the Titans are 21st in cap space with over $1 million available.
Odds Ngakoue Stays in Baltimore:
For Baltimore’s reputation of being a strong defensive unit, rushing the passer has been a weak spot for them in recent years. The days of Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, and Elvis Dumervil are gone. Baltimore’s three best edge defenders (Ngakoue, Matt Judon, and Tyus Bowser) are free agents this offseason, so it will be key for the Ravens to find some semblance of a pass rush moving forward.
According to Spotrac, the Ravens are 11th in cap space with over $29 million available.