The Indianapolis Colts could be spenders in free agency during the 2021 offseason so we will be profiling several potential targets at positions of need.
Among those is the edge rusher position. With Justin Houston, Al-Quadin Muhammad and Denico Autry set to hit free agency, the Colts have a big need to add more talent to the edge. As it currently stands, Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu are the starting defensive ends.
So as free agency gets closer, we will do our best to preview and profile potential targets for the Colts this offseason. With roughly $43 million in projected salary-cap space, the Colts can go after whoever they want.
Other defensive ends we have previewed;
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The Road So Far
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A third-round pick with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016, Ngakoue instantly became a budding star after recording 8.0 sacks during his rookie campaign. He followed that up with a career-high 12.0 sacks in 2017, earning a Pro-Bowl selection. Ngakoue has never recorded fewer than 8.0 sacks in a season and has appeared in 78 out of a possible 80 games. Ngakoue wanted out of Jacksonville so the regime traded him to the Minnesota Vikings for a second-round and a conditional fifth-round pick just before the 2020 season. Then during the season, the Vikings traded Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens for a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick. In 2020, Ngakoue recorded 8.0 sacks, seven tackles for loss and his 42 total pressures, according to PFF, were 31st among all edge rushers. Since 2017, Ngakoue's 37.5 sacks are the ninth-most in the NFL.
Fit With The Colts
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It has been said plenty this offseason already that the Colts have to find an upper-tier edge rusher. Ngakoue fits that mold and would be a fantastic fit along the Colts defensive line with their aggressive, one-gap front. With DeForest Buckner taking up most of the offense's attention, Ngakoue would thrive on the edge for the Colts. He brings flexibility, speed and a polished plan to the edge, showing an ability to win with the long arm and rip while running the arc. Ngakoue has an extremely high motor and relentless desire to get after the quarterback. In the run game, Ngakoue sets a decent edge but his difference-making comes as a pass rusher.
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If there is one position the Colts should pay-up for in free agency, it is defensive end. They have the cap space to do so and it could result in them getting a game-changer. For Ngakoue, the Colts are likely going to have to pay up if they want him. Spotrac's market value model has Ngakoue signing a four-year deal worth $62.4 million, coming out to $15.5 million annually. Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus projects his contract to be four years for $70 million, coming out to $17.5 million annually. The Colts should be comfortable paying in that range. Ngakoue has shown he can be among the most productive edge rushers in the game and would be a major difference-maker on the edge for Indy.
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The Colts have to walk away from free agency with one of the top defensive ends. Ngakoue belongs in that conversation due to his age, statistical profile and fit with the defense. Paying Ngakoue will likely be the biggest question mark in the Colts' front office. But paying him in the range of $15–17 million annually shouldn't be an issue even with extensions coming up. Signing Ngakoue in free agency would address one of the biggest needs on the roster and allow them to truly draft best player available in April.