Yannick Ngakoue is adding the free-agency tour into his offseason routine and, this time around, he's not interested in playing for a middling team.
After a tumultuous two-year period in which Ngakoue reached the playoffs as a mercenary on one team, then was traded to another ambitious club that ended up trudging through a nightmarish season, Ngakoue just wants stability and a legitimate chance to pursue a title.
"For me, personally, I've been to a couple of stops and instead of doing these visits, I'm ready to have a stable home and just to be able to be on a multi-year deal, I can be able to ground myself and start on things, really focusing on my family and trying to start a family, things like that," Ngakoue said during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
Ngakoue's career has been a tale of two differing acts.
He played a key role as part of the famed, but short-lived Sacksonville defense with the Jaguars, racking up 20 sacks and 10 forced fumbles in his first two professional seasons. By the time the 2019 season ended, though, it was clear the Jaguars were headed in a direction in which Ngakoue did not want to follow.
Jacksonville eventually acquiesced, sending Ngakoue to Minnesota via trade and launching what would be a string of cameo appearances with four teams in three seasons. On paper, the pairing seemed to be a perfect fit, but Ngakoue struggled to make a difference for the Vikings, leading to another trade -- this time, in the middle of the 2020 season -- moving from Minneapolis to Baltimore.
That season saw Ngakoue finish with eight sacks between the two clubs. It was enough to convince the Raiders to sign him to a two-year deal, but after adding Chandler Jones in the 2022 offseason, the Raiders realized they had a glut of talented edge rushers, instructing Ngakoue to once again pack his bags for a new destination: Indianapolis.
That's where things got tough for Ngakoue. He recorded 9.5 sacks for the Colts, but it was largely overlooked due to Indianapolis' organizational meltdown during the 2022 season. Nagkoue watched the Colts fire his coach, Frank Reich, replace him with an NFL veteran who lacked any NFL coaching experience in Jeff Saturday, and then wipe that slate clean in the offseason.
It was easy to see Ngakoue wouldn't have a future in Indianapolis, at least not one that fit his vision. He still hasn't found the right fit, though, remaining unemployed at the start of June.
After three seasons of constant change and uniform swaps, Ngakoue is ready to settle down. He's hoping a team sees him as a proper fit for more than a one-year, prove-it deal. And most importantly, he's hoping said team has a legitimate chance to win in 2023.
"At this stage in my career, being in my later 20s, I definitely want to play for a contender, play for a team and organization that wants to win a Super Bowl," Ngakoue said. "That's one of the things on my agenda is to be able to help and contribute to that. Hopefully, I can gain some great interest from a contender."
Ngakoue is still only 28 years old, and despite spending most of the second half of his career changing clubs, he's managed to produce wherever he's been. Of his 65 career sacks, 27.5 have come in the last three seasons, essentially matching his per-season average registered in his four years with the Jaguars.
The production is still there. The fit, though, isn't as simple to find.
Ngakoue is now on the Jadeveon Clowney free-agency track, entering the summer without a job while still carrying value for prospective teams. Teams will hope Ngakoue provides a better return on investment than Clowney has in the last three seasons.
Ngakoue just wants a legitimate opportunity to play meaningful football.
"Whoever ends up taking a chance on me, I'm excited to just go back out there and play some good football," he said.