Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Yannick Ngakoue: You’d have to be a fool not to want to play for the Raiders

Mike Florio and Chris Simms discuss the inevitable expansion of the NFL regular season and where the league could look to expand next.

During offensive lineman Gabe Jackson’s first media session with Seattle, the former longtime Raiders guard said flatly that his new team wins.

I want to be a part of an organization that’s like that,” Jackson said, in what could be interpreted as a bit of a shot to the franchise that dealt him.

Conversely there’s defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who just signed a two-year deal with the Raiders in free agency. He has 26 million reasons to say nice things about his new team, but Ngakoue feels the nostalgia that many associate with the Raiders brand.

“I never once ever came out and said that I wanted to play for the Raiders for a long time,” Ngakoue said during an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio. “But you’d have to be a fool not to want to play for the Raiders — just the tradition and the history behind them, the Hall of Famers they have. I aspire to be a Hall of Famer one day when it’s all said and done and I hang up my cleats. It’s just more motivation when I walk into that building, just to see all the others that did it.”

It’s been a while since the Raiders “Just won, baby,” as the club has only one winning record and postseason appearance since losing Super Bowl XXXVII to the Buccaneers in 2002 (with past and current head coach Jon Gruden at the helm for Tampa Bay).

But the club hired Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator for 2021, and he was the Jaguars’ head coach when they selected Ngakoue in the third round of the 2016 draft.

“I’m going with a defensive coordinator that’s used to my style of play, that’s used me before, was my former head coach,” Ngakoue said. “And the defense definitely allows me to utilize my skills to help the team out tremendously. So it’s just a blessing.”

Las Vegas’ pass rush could certainly use an upgrade, after ranking 29th in sacks in 2020. Since Gruden returned to coach the Raiders in 2018, the club has finished with 13, 32, and 21 sacks in each of the last three seasons, respectively.

Though great pass rushers are hard to find, Ngakoue has 45.5 sacks in five seasons, with a high of 12.0 in 2017.