Chicago Bears reunite with $10 Million Edge Rusher Floated

Bears and $10 million edge rusher reunited following the NFL Draft

The Chicago Bears have added a lot of talent to the roster in the summer, but the position of edge rusher opposite Montez Sweat might use some more focus.

As of Monday, May 6, Chicago had roughly $23 million in salary cap space to spare, and should the team chose to pursue them, there are ways to create more. A defense that grew stronger as the season came to an end is likely to prioritize adding a second defensive end, though the amount of money spent will depend on the kind of player that becomes available.

Without a trade, second-wave free agency is now the only viable alternative, thus it’s a limited road. As a result, the Bears and Sweat are unlikely to come up with a long-term solution this offseason, but the team will have some options thanks to their pursuit of a temporary solution that can act as a bridge to a more long-term answer.
One of those is a reunion with pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, who spent the previous season playing for the Chicago Bears on a roughly $10.5 million contract.

Alex Shapiro of NBC Sports said over the weekend, “The Bears brought in Ngakoue on a one-year deal to bolster their pass rush last summer, but his season ended early due to an ankle injury.” Given that the two parties are acquainted, it would make sense for the team to run it back if the medicals clear up. Additionally, it would relieve some of Austin Booker’s strain as he strives to refine his raw potential in his first campaign.
Booker, a 6-foot, 5-inch, 240-pound prospect out of Kansas, was one of Chicago’s five draft selections in 2024. The team chose him in the fifth round.

Over the past week, NFL writers have been considering Yannick Ngakoue returning to the Bears.
Since the NFL draft concluded late last month, several analysts have suggested that Ngakoue and the Bears could get back together. Shapiro is not the only one.
Joe Tansey of Bleacher Report said on Monday, “The veteran edge-rusher produced [7] quarterback hits, [6] tackles for loss, and [4] sacks last season.” “Chicago could need any additional output from Montez Sweat’s position to get its offense on the field as much as possible in 2024. Although Ngakoue’s experience will require opposing offenses to be more creative in their blocking schemes, Sweat will be the team’s main pass rusher.

Bill Zimmerman of SB Nation’s Windy City Gridiron also authored a similar pitch on May 3.

“I think the Bears sign an additional veteran here, and I think Ngakoue makes too much sense,” Zimmerman wrote. “He didn’t have a great 2023 season in Chicago, but he knows the Matt Eberflus‘ system, and it’s not like there are veterans available who were wildly productive in 2023. The bottom of this group is weak.”

Ngakoue played in and started 13 games for the Bears in 2023, missing four due to injury.

Austin Booker Could Prove Late-Round Steal for Bears With Time

Ngakoue is 29 years old and entering his ninth NFL season. While he is a one-time Pro Bowler who had amassed at least 8 sacks in every campaign of his career heading into last season, he is coming off of a career-worst performance in 2023.

In other words, he isn’t the long-term answer. Booker, however, could be.

Dane Brugler of The Athletic on April 29 named Booker among his Day-3 selections who could end up proving steals with time.

“The Bears used a 2025 fourth-round pick to trade back into this draft (at No. 144) and scoop up Booker, who easily could have been drafted on Day 2,” Brugler wrote. “Although he isn’t ready for a meaningful role as a rookie, Booker has the promising pass-rush savvy to be a steal when we look back at this selection in two or three years.”

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