Should Raiders reunite with former sack leader?

Bleacher Report believes a Raider-Ngakoue reunion might work.
Chicago Bears v Kansas City Chiefs
Chicago Bears v Kansas City Chiefs / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Recently, Bleacher Report published a piece listing the top 20 unsigned free agents along with the teams that might be the best fit for each player.

Edge Yannick Ngakoue, ranked as the ninth-best free agent remaining on the market by Bleacher Report, is the only player on this list who the Raiders could consider a fit. You may think that cornerbacks like Stephon Gilmore, Xavien Howard, and Patrick Peterson, or even safeties like Justin Simmons, Micah Hyde, and Jamal Adams, are the best fits for the Raiders' current roster when examining the list, all players we have discussed as potential free agent targets for this Raiders defense. Although it may seem that the defensive end is not a position of "need" on this roster, let's take a look at what it might look like if Yannick Ngakoue were to return to the Raiders.

In his one and only season with the Raiders in 2021, Ngakoue recorded 10 sacks and played primarily opposite superstar Maxx Crosby. This means he is at least familiar with the organization, facilities, and some of the defensive players, so that's a plus even though the coaching staff has changed. The Raiders would instantly gain a veteran presence in the locker room and increase the depth of what some believe to be the league's best defensive line if they chose to sign the ninth-year player. Having depth at defensive line is always beneficial, particularly in a division that boasts players like Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes.

The most troubling of the possible downsides to signing Ngakoue is that he is a 29-year-old defensive end who will be returning from a broken ankle suffered in Week 14 of last season. Prior to being sidelined by this injury, Ngakoue had at least eight sacks in each of his professional seasons, which is consistent production. The edge rusher has never suffered a serious injury in his NFL career, and you would hope that he would produce with the same explosiveness and production as in the past, but are the Raiders willing to take that risk? As for salary expectations, the Chicago Bears paid Ngakoue $10.3 million on a one-year contract for 2023, and the Raiders would most likely not have to spend that much, especially since he is coming off an injury.

It just seems like any amount of money would be better spent on a position that this roster desperately needs (cornerback, safety, linebacker). Having said that, this strong defense will only get stronger if the Raiders choose to sign Ngakoue, and can do so for a reasonable price. In Ngakoue, the Raiders would be adding to the best position group on the team—their defensive line—and it goes without saying that this unit needs to perform well if the team is to be successful in 2024.