The Bears finally added a valuable pass rusher to their team during training camp by signing free agent Yannick Ngakoue to a one-year, $10.5 million contract. This acquisition was much needed and should boost an anemic pass rush that recorded only 20 sacks the entire 2022 season.
Yannick Ngakoue is the pass rusher the Chicago Bears needed
Prior to signing Ngakoue, both he and Justin Houston were the best available free-agent pass rushers available and both were linked to the Bears. Coincidently, after Yannick Ngakoue signed with the Bears, Houston signed with Carolina Panthers immediately. One can guess both players were probably keeping an eye on each other as to who signed where and for how much.
It's been quite an interesting offseason for both organizations. Between the trade that both teams made, in which Carolina acquired the Bears' No.1 pick to draft QB Bryce Young in this year's draft while having to give up WR DJ Moore, and the 2024 first-round pick to the Bears, both organizations are linked forever. Both fan bases will no doubt poke fun at each other as to who got the better player on social media this season.
The Ngakoue signing capped off a tremendous off-season for the Bears. Kudos go to General Manager Ryan Poles. The Bears did not have to trade away draft capital to acquire Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings nor Chase Young of the Washington Commanders, two players who were linked to the Bears the entire off-season. The Bears are now in a position to acquire at least one of them next off-season as both players will become free agents after this season.
When Ngakoue realized he wasn't going to get the multi-year contract he was seeking, the Bears got him for a decent price. Yannick Ngakoue was quoted as saying he was destined to play for them, so you had to believe there was a mutual interest by both sides the entire off-season. But Poles have shown remarkable patience and poise, unlike former General Manager Ryan Pace, who crippled the Bears with his draft selections, trading away draft assets, and bad free agent signings.
Keep in mind the Bears will be his sixth organization at the age of 28. While that seems like a red flag to some, the Bears have had a strong track record of adding edge rushers in the off-season, which led to the turnaround the following season.
You may recall Julius Peppers signed as a free agent in March of 2010 which help lead to the Bears winning the NFC North in the 2010 season with an 11-5 record and appearance in the NFC Championship game. And how can anyone forget the acquisition of Khalil Mack about a week before the start of the 2018 season? He was truly a game-changer that year as the Bears finished the year 12-4 and won the NFC North.
While it would be unfair to compare him to Peppers and Mack, if he is as good as advertised, the fans should be optimistic that Yannick Ngakoue can help elevate the defense and lead the Bears to a turnaround in the upcoming 2023 season.