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This Former Jaguars Star Could Find 2023 Success In New Orleans

Although the most active portion of NFL free agency is long past us and teams now enter the post-draft part of the off-season, there are still several key free agents left to be signed. The New Orleans Saints are in the market for an edge rusher after losing former first-round pick Marcus Davenport.

While New Orleans has star rusher and future Hall of Famer Cam Jordan opposite, the team still needs another dynamic edge to fill in the gap. They could look towards this star free agent who has posted nearly 20 sacks in the past two years, despite changing teams a lot recently. Former 2021 first-round pick Payton Turner hasn’t lived up to his expectations so far, only posting three sacks in his first two seasons. New Orleans could easily upgrade that position with Yannick Ngakoue, one of the leaders of the former 2017 “Sacksonville” Jaguars season.

Yannick Ngakoue Could Be The Answer In NOLA

The former Jaguars star edge rusher will not re-sign with the Colts and New Orleans could be a really good fit for him. He would bring experience and leadership to the Saints’ defense while mentoring Turner.

The former 2016 third-round pick started his career in Jacksonville, where he quickly became a top pass rusher on the team and one of its best players during its struggling three-win season. He helped the team make its first playoff appearance n years in 2017, exploding with 12 sacks and staying healthy in all 16 games that year.

With over 65+ sacks in seven seasons including stints with the Raiders, Vikings, Ravens, and Colts, New Orleans could be the next stop in his NFL journey. If New Orleans wants to contend in the NFC South, adding to their already elite defense would be smart.

Why He Could Be A Good Fit

The soon-to-be 28-year-old posted nine and a half sacks last season in Indianapolis and 19.5 in the last two seasons. He has also stayed healthy and has only missed four games in seven seasons. This could convince the Saints into looking at the veteran pass rusher.

Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen could easily fit Ngakoue into his scheme and elevate the defensive line that lost star defensive tackle David Onyemata. Onyemata signed with the division rival Atlanta Falcons this offseason. This signing just makes total sense for the Saints.

What New Orleans Should Be Concerned About?

Although Ngakoue is solid at getting to the quarterback, he hasn’t been very great at defending the run. PFF gave him one of the lowest grades this season against the rushing game in Indianapolis. He also has been very inconsistent, only finding most success against the tight end and receiver blockers.

Another concern should be why, despite his solid production over the past couple of seasons, he has been a journeyman in the NFL. He was traded twice in one season in 2020, where he played half a season in Minnesota before being traded to Baltimore near the trade deadline.

He had a good stint on the Raiders, but they invested a lot of money into star edge rusher Chandler Jones which signaled they didn’t need the former 2016 draft pick, despite leading the team in sacks the year before. Ngakoue’s situation in Indianapolis was not much better with superstar DeForest Buckner already on the defensive line and the Colts banking on Kwity Paye to turn into an elite pass rusher. The team replaced him with former Ram Samson Ebukam and his time in Indy was done.

Conclusion

Although he isn’t the feared star he once was, Ngakoue could still make a team really happy if he fits in the right system. With the Saints boasting one of the top defenses in the league, a division full of inexperienced quarterbacks, as well as a defensive-minded system, Ngakoue could thrive in Louisiana.

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