Heading into the 2021 season, the Las Vegas Raiders know they have to improve on the defensive side of the field in order to be competitive.
The Raiders made sure to retain some of their own free agents in Nicholas Morrow and Johnathan Hankins, ensuring some continuity under new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. However, they also made a splash by landing Yannick Ngakoue on a two-year, $26 million deal.
Ngakoue was one of the more interesting pass rushers in free agency and should bolster Las Vegas’ defense with his ability to get to the quarterback. The signing also made sense from a relationship standpoint as he is already familiar with playing for Bradley.
According to Levi Damien of Raiders Wire, Ngakoue was excited to reunite with his former head coach.
“It was a no-brainer,” Ngakoue said of reuniting with Bradley. “Coach Gus had input in drafting me back in 2016, he knows what I bring to this game, and I feel like that’s a coach that knows how to utilized my skillset to make it super effective to help the team as much as possible. So, with Gus being here I know it’s like another father figure for me, it’s another guy that can help me out when I’m out here on a different coast, so it’s a blessing.”
Bradley was the head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars during Ngakoue’s rookie season and should be able to get the most out of the 25-year-old. Ngakoue registered eight sacks in his first season with the Jaguars, and that type of production would be a boost to the Raiders defense as they often struggled to get any pressure on opposing quarterbacks last season.
By bringing Ngakoue on board, it is clear the Silver and Black trust Bradley to rebuild the defense as he sees fit. However, they are far from done as they have holes in the secondary they need to address, and it will be interesting to see who they target either in free agency or in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft.