Raiders reuniting with former sack leader could be ideal move: ESPN

Could we see this defensive end reunite with the Raiders?
Carolina Panthers v Chicago Bears
Carolina Panthers v Chicago Bears / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Aaron Schatz of ESPN went through and gave an idea for one final move every team should make this offseason. For the Las Vegas Raiders, the move was to sign a free agent, but not Xavien Howard, Stephon Gilmore or any cornerback, not a running back, but a player who is a familiar face to the Raiders, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Schatz broke down the reason why the Raiders should reunite with Ngakoue:

"The Raiders have a superstar edge rusher in Maxx Crosby but a real depth problem behind him," Schatz wrote. "Right now, the plan is to move Tyree Wilson inside, leaving Malcolm Koonce starting on the edge. Koonce had a surprisingly strong season in 2023, with eight sacks and 31 pressures against defenses that were busy double-teaming Crosby. Behind him, though, are all veteran journeymen and young free agents. If the Raiders bring in Ngakoue, they'll have a steady veteran edge rusher who can rotate with Koonce and give the team something if Crosby or Koonce miss time with an injury."

I do agree the Raiders could use some depth at defensive end, but it seems to be a similar situation to the cornerback room. Do the Raiders want to spend money on a free agent who could make them marginally better, or try to develop young talent at the position? The young talent being second-year player Tyree Wilson, who will be entering his first fully healthy season, and who the Raiders just spent their first-round pick on in 2023. 

Potential downside

Ngakoue is a 29-year-old defensive end who will be making a comeback from a broken ankle he sustained in Week 14 of the previous season, which is concerning, and a potential negative to signing him. Ngakoue produced consistently throughout his professional career, averaging at least 8.0 sacks per season before being sidelined by this injury. You would think that the edge rusher, who has never experienced a major injury in his NFL career, would perform with the same explosiveness and output as in the past, but are the Raiders willing to take that chance?

Ngakoue led the Raiders with 10.0 sacks in his one and only season with the team in 2021.