Yannick Ngakoue has finally found his next NFL home. The former Pro Bowl pass rusher is signing a one-year, $10.5 million deal that includes $10 million guaranteed, according to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. ESPN reported the signing Thursday night.
Ngakoue, 28, broke into the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2017 after leading the NFL with six forced fumbles. He was part of a Jaguars defense that season that spearheaded the team’s run to the AFC title game.
Ngakoue played for four teams from 2020-22. He spent parts of the 2020 season with the Vikings and Ravens before recording 10 sacks during his lone season with the Ravens. As a member of the Cotls last season, Ngakoue tallied 9.5 sacks in 15 games.
Once football’s glamour position, running back is currently under attack by a system that has diminished their monetary value. Austin Ekeler — with his and his peers’ livelihoods being challenged — has offered a temporarily solution that could lead to better days for him and the league’s other top-tier running backs.
The solution was formed during a private meeting between organized by Ekeler that included some of the league’s top backs, including Ekeler, Tennessee’s Derrick Henry, San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey, Cleveland’s Nick Chubb, New York’s Saquon Barkley, Las Vegas’ Josh Jacobs and Pittsburgh’s Najee Harris. The issue at hand was the financial hit that the running back position has taken recently, as many of the league’s best backs are playing well below their market value.
“All the running backs out there, what we can do in the short term is to continue to make an impact,” Ekeler said during a one-on-one interview with CBS Sports. “I’m going to go out there and try to score as many touchdowns as I can, play my game, be consistent, make a big impact. And also, when we get asked about it, have some type of narrative. For us, we need to have some consistent messaging when it comes to that. … That’s why we had to have those calls. Things like that are things we can do in the short term to help ourselves out.”
Ekeler is among the league’s top backs who are grossly underpaid. While his current market value is $12.82 million per season (via Spotrac), Ekeler’s 2023 salary includes a $6.5 million base salary and a $1.5 million signing bonus. He requested a trade this offseason over his salary before accepting the Chargers’ offer of an extra $1.75 million in incentives for what is his final year under his current contract.
Before the Colts potentially trade Jonathan Taylor, they should think about what they could be walking away from.
While rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson is a bit of a mystery, he has a sky-high ceiling. With Taylor, they could form one of the most dynamic QB/RB rushing attacks in NFL history.
Richardson blew up the NFL combine with a 4.43 40-yard dash, 40.5-inch vertical and 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump at 244 pounds. He also ran for 654 yards and nine touchdowns while leading all FBS QBs in yards per rush (6.3) last year.
He can do this:
ANTHONY RICHARDSON WAS UNSTOPPABLE ✈️ pic.twitter.com/0EDr211DHI
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) October 16, 2022 Taylor won a rushing title in 2021 (1,811) while also leading the NFL in touchdown runs (18) before battling injuries in 2022.
He can make house calls too:
GOOD NIGHT INDY!
Jonathan Taylor makes a 67-yard house call to shut the door on the Patriots 🙌pic.twitter.com/Ih35dnqnnh
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) December 19, 2021 Colts head coach Shane Steichen was the Eagles offensive coordinator last year when Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders helped Philadelphia finish fifth in rushing yards. Hurts led all quarterbacks in run-pass option (RPO) plays in each of the last two seasons, something you can expect a lot of from the Colts in 2023.
Those plays put defenders in conflict. Hypothetically, when Richardson sticks the football out to Taylor, defenders will be wondering at the mesh point whether Richardson is going to hand off, keep and run, or keep and throw.
All that would mean more running lanes for two of the most talented rushers at their respective positions.
Given the circumstances around Taylor and mystery around Richardson, it’s a big IF, but can you imagine the possibilities for this electric, rushing combo if both play to their potential?
Lucky for you I’ve been dreaming up benchmarks and comparisons for the Colts’ pair.
The ceiling for a rookie Richardson and Taylor this year is Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris. The duo rode the zone-read option to a playoff appearance and combined for 2,428 rushing yards in both of their rookie seasons in 2012, the most combined rushing yardage by a QB-RB pair in a season in NFL history according to SportRadar. They are also the only duo in NFL history to feature a QB with 500 rushing yards and a RB with 1,500 rushing yards in a season.
That got me and my fellow CBS Sports researcher Brian Coyle thinking about other rushing “clubs” for QB-RB combos. And this doesn’t extend to just rookies.
The Tampa Bay Rays will promote infield prospect Curtis Mead for his big-league debut ahead of Friday’s series-opening contest against the Detroit Tigers, the team announced Friday. Mead will be taking the roster spot of left-handed ace Shane McClanahan, who was placed on the injured list on Thursday night because of forearm soreness.
Mead, 22, has batted .291/.379/.453 with three home runs this season in 46 Triple-A games. He missed nearly two months earlier in the summer because of a wrist injury. Since returning to the Durham Bulls lineup in late June, he’s hit .355/.460/.538 in 113 trips to the plate. It is worth noting that Mead has homered just once over those 24 games, though he has recorded 12 other extra-base hits.
Mead’s ball-tracking statistics include an 89.3 average exit velocity, a 12.3 degree launch angle, and a 16.4% barrel rate. He was ranked by CBS Sports over the offseason as the No. 1 prospect in the Rays system. Here’s what we wrote:
Mead, who originally signed with the Phillies out of Australia, was acquired in exchange for lefty reliever Cristopher Sanchez in November 2019. He’s since ascended thanks to an above-average offensive projection. Mead split last season between Double- and Triple-A, batting .298/.390/.532 with 13 home runs in 76 games. He hits the ball hard and often, and he walked more frequently in 2022 than he had in past years. Mead’s best defensive position is in the batter’s box, since he lacks the arm to be good at third base and the range to excel at second. The Rays may try to play him all over the place anyway, but make no mistake: his bat is the selling point.
Mead has primarily played third base since coming back from injury.
The San Diego Padres announced on Friday that left-hander Cole Hamels and righty Craig Stammen had been placed on the voluntarily retired list.
Hamels, 39, signed a minor-league pact with the Padres in February with an eye on making his way back to the majors for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery in 2021. He never appeared in an official game with the San Diego organization.
Hamels’ final big-league appearance came with the Atlanta Braves during the 2020 season. He finishes his career having pitched in 423 games and accumulating a 3.43 ERA (123 ERA+) and a 3.34 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He made four All-Star Games and played a pivotal run in the Philadelphia Phillies’ 2008 World Series title, winning the Most Valuable Player Award designation in both the National League Championship and the World Series itself.
In addition to that time with the Phillies and Braves, Hamels also suited up as a member of the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs. He signed a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021 but, as with the Padres, never appeared in an official game with the organization.
Stammen, 39, had not pitched this season after suffering a torn capsule and strained subscapula in spring training. At the time, he suggested that without surgery his ailment could heal in four to six months’ time. Still, Stammen was not optimistic about making his way back onto the mound.
“Without saying that I’m done,” Stammen told the San Diego Union-Tribune in March, “it’s highly unlikely that I pitch again.”
Stammen appeared in 562 big-league games over a 13-year career. He amassed a 3.66 ERA (109 ERA+) and a 3.15 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Stammen appeared in games as a member of the Washington Nationals and Padres and spent a minor-league season in the Cleveland Guardians farm system.