Yannick Ngakoue has shockingly not been signed in NFL free agency, and with the market dwindling, could the 49ers take the plunge and make one last move?
Cast your mind back to recent times, when the San Francisco 49ers traded a second-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for EDGE Dee Ford.
It was a bold move that ultimately backfired, as Ford could not stay on the field, but the intent was clear the Niners envisioned an elite defensive line that could overwhelm defenses. A Nick Bosa-DeForest Buckner-Arik Armstead-Dee Ford tandem was an exciting prospect to be sure.
Fast forward to the present day, and San Francisco is trying something very similar. Bosa and Armstead are still on the team and have been joined by free-agent signing Javon Hargrave to provide a partner in crime for Armstead on the defensive interior.
Three of the four spots on the line are manned by exceptional players, while the EDGE position opposite Bosa will presumably be filled by 2022 second-round pick Drake Jackson. Jackson flashed potential at times, but he obviously has room to grow.
But, with the 49ers in a position to win now, there’s a chance to make a splash play. If they want to truly tee off on the quarterback, then there’s a surprising name still available in EDGE Yannick Ngakoue.
The 49ers-Yannick Ngakoue fit
The important thing to address here is the salary cap.
The 49ers currently have a little under $6.5 million in cap space with the draft class to consider. So for this to work, the Niners’ chief contracts negotiator, Paraag Marathe, will have to wave his magic wand and make some money appear.
Some more adjusted contracts perhaps?
Ngakoue cost $13 million against the cap this season for the Indianapolis Colts. With the market thinning out a bit, San Francisco could use both that and its strong roster to an advantage to lure him over for a little less.
Could $10 million a year do it?
Ngakoue would slide instantly into the starting spot at EDGE opposite Bosa. Ngakoue is only 28 years old at the end of the month and still in his prime, and has never tallied less than eight sacks in a season. He had a more-than-acceptable 9.5 sacks for a Colts team that didn’t have the depth the 49ers do.
But on a Niners front four featuring Bosa, Armstead and Hargrave this wouldn’t happen. Ngakoue would not attract nearly as much attention.
The 49ers get an excellent pass-rusher to finish off NFL free agency, Ngakoue gets to roam on a defense that has so many studs on the field that teams can’t afford to focus too much his way.
We talked about the Niners’ attempt to build a brilliant Bosa-Buckner-Armstead-Ford defensive line.
I would argue that Bosa-Hargrave-Armstead-Ngakoue could blow that out of the water.
It would require some financial wizardry, but the team wouldn’t need to save that much. It seems a perfect fit on the surface.
So, if the entrance is there, why not make a move? It could be the little kick over the top to make the defense truly special in 2023.