It comes just minutes after it was announced that the Raiders were agreeing to terms with top veteran free agent edge Chandler Jones—in what was already a crowded Las Vegas edge group that had Ngakoue and new $100M man Maxx Crosby.
Of course, Ngakoue spent last season with the Raiders under new Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, being largely deployed as his ‘LEO’, where he recorded 10.0 sacks, 62 total QB pressures, and 2 forced fumbles to go along with 28 tackles (17 solo) and 8 tackles for loss during all 17 starts. He was also a voted a team captain for the Raiders.
Still only 26 years old, the former 2016 3rd round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars has had a few stops since then including with the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens. He’s entering the last year of his current contract with a $15M cap hit in 2022, but it’s possible that the Colts could look to re-sign him to a lucrative long-term extension.
Ngakoue was an NFL Pro Bowler in 2017.
The surprise is obviously Ya-Sin here, who had been playing some really good football at starting outside cornerback down the stretch in 2021. Perhaps, the Colts just didn’t see him as the same system fit in Bradley’s ‘Cover 3’ scheme or maybe this was just the rare opportunity to acquire a high-end pass rusher like Ngakoue—that was too good to pass up in the current market where elite pass rushers are held at such a premium.
It’s very likely that this could be a precursor to the Colts signing veteran cornerback Casey Hayward (or maybe another starter), who also played under Bradley last season with the Raiders.
Another question to ask is what this means for Colts second-year pass rusher Kwity Paye in 2022, who was projected to be the natural ‘LEO’ going forward. Perhaps, he could see more time as the 4T or pass rushing SAM in certain pass rushing packages—paired with Ngakoue.
Either way, this Colts defense just got a lot better than it was entering the day.