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Yannick Ngakoue sees Bears as ideal fit

New Bears defensive end Yannick Ngakoue
New Bears defensive end Yannick Ngakoue

Yannick Ngakoue believes that he may have been destined to play for the Bears.

"I feel like it was meant for me to be here," the veteran defensive end said Friday after signing a one-year deal with the team. "I actually have a bear tatted on my hand. I feel like that was a sign to me that I was always meant to be a Chicago Bear."

The only NFL player who has recorded at least 8.0 sacks in each of the last seven seasons, Ngakoue had multiple options in free agency. But he felt the Bears were an ideal fit.  

"I just wanted to go somewhere I feel like I fit in, and I feel like I fit in here," he said. "It's a great culture, great history. It's a great place to play football."

Ngakoue has appeared in 110 NFL games with 102 starts over seven seasons with the Jaguars (2016-19), Vikings (2020), Ravens (2020), Raiders (2021) and Colts (2022). He has recorded 202 tackles, 65.0 sacks, 65 tackles-for-loss, 21 forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

Ngakoue has amassed 19.5 sacks the past two seasons, 10.0 with Las Vegas in 2021 and 9.5 with Indianapolis last year.

One of the main reasons that Ngakoue wanted to join the Bears was the chance to reunite with defensive line coach Travis Smith, Ngakoue's assistant defensive line coach under defensive line coach Rod Marinelli with the Raiders in 2021. 

"He's a great guy and I was blessed and lucky enough to have him and coach Rod Marinelli as my coaches in Las Vegas," Ngakoue said. "They instilled a lot of great values in me and a lot of great practice habits. Those guys are students of the game, so it was actually a privilege to be able to be coached by those kind of guys."

Ngakoue believes the Bears defensive linemen are in good hands with Smith. 

"I just love his style of coaching," Ngakoue said. "I know that he can raise the level, the bar of all of us in the locker room as well as in the D-line room."

“I just wanted to go somewhere I feel like I fit in, and I feel like I fit in here.” New Bears DE Yannick Ngakoue

Without a team during the offseason and early part of training camp, Ngakoue worked out and kept his mind clear by spending time with his family. 

With the Bears being Ngakoue's fifth team in the last four seasons, he's familiar with the assimilation process. He believes the key to making a smooth transition is by "being a good teammate." 

"Just feeling out guys and being a servant leader, it's an easy transition wherever you go," Ngakoue said. "You've got to be selfless and you've got to have humility."