Yannick Ngakoue a free roll for Bears, Ryan Poles

The former Pro Bowl defensive end is an affordable, low-risk, high-return acquisition who can provide a pass rush that will allow the Bears’ young secondary — cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon and Tyrique Stevenson and safety Jaquan Brisker — to blossom.

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Yannick Ngakoue (91) trips up Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) in the Bears’ 20-9 victory over the Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. They are now teammates after the Bears signed Ngakoue to a one-year contract.

Yannick Ngakoue (91) trips up Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) in the Bears’ 20-9 victory over the Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. They are now teammates after the Bears signed Ngakoue to a one-year contract.

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Yannick Ngakoue is a rarity in the NFL — the vagabond pass -rusher. Defensive ends as productive as Ngakoue has been — 65 sacks and 21 forced fumbles in seven seasons — don’t usually get away. Yet the Bears are Ngakoue’s sixth team the last four years.

So there might be something to Ngakoue’s contention that fate put him at Halas Hall on Friday. A Bears organization that is always looking for edge rushers — their last home-grown pass rusher to make the Pro Bowl was Richard Dent in 1993 — and a productive defensive end forever looking for a home seems to be a perfect match.

“I feel like it was meant for me to be here,” Ngakoue, 28, said Friday. “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 signing of Ngakoue to a one-year, $10.5 million contract wasn’t as ballyhooed as Jerry Angelo’s signing of Julius Peppers in 2010 or Ryan Pace’s trading for Khalil Mack in 2018. But it also isn’t as desperate as Phil Emery’s signing of 32-year-old Jared Allen in 2014.

For general manager Ryan Poles it was the right move at the right time, an acquisition with virtually all upside and no downside. Ngakoue is an automatic upgrade for a defensive line with 6.5 total sacks from its edge rushers last season. Poles got Ngakoue at his price — a cap-efficient one-year deal instead of the two-year contract he reportedly sought.

Ngakoue fits the Bears’ defensive scheme under Matt Eberflus and Alan Williams — similar to Gus Bradley’s scheme in which Ngakoue flourished as a rookie with the Jaguars in 2016, with the Raiders in 2021 and with the Colts last season. Ngakoue comes with Rod Marinelli’s seal of approval — having played for Marinelli (and Bears defensive line coach Travis Smith) with the Raiders.

“We had some intel on him,” Eberflus said. “Obviously what kind of teammate he is. What kind of person he is. What kind of worker he is. And he checked all the boxes for us. He’s going to be a good addition.”

Ngakoue is a virtual free roll for Poles and Eberflus. If he slumps, the Bears will be no worse off. Ngakoue isn’t taking snaps from a high draft pick who needs them more.

And most of all, Ngakoue at his best will give the core of young defensive backs a better chance to blossom. Cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker had the difficult task of developing behind one of the least-productive defensive lines in the NFL. With rookie cornerbacks Tyrique Stevenson and Terell Smith added to that group, Ngakoue’s pass-rushing presence gives them more of a fighting chance.

Veteran safety Eddie Jackson’s excitement — “it’s just more juice” — said it all.

“It’s just getting scarier and scarier,” Jackson said. “We’re just adding more talent and more talent. When you’ve got a large group of talented players and people that’s actually locked in and really love football, that’s just more fuel to the fire. Now we added [Ngakoue], it’s like, ‘Oh man, it’s up’ — like this thing is headed in the right direction.”

One more thing the addition of Ngakoue does is build on the momentum this defense has started to feel in training camp. Ngakoue isn’t Myles Garrett. But in prime form he takes this defense — the worst in the NFL by points allowed last season — one step closer to becoming an anchor that will give Justin Fields and the formative offense under Luke Getsy some breathing room time to grow, and theoretically win games in the process.

Jackson can feel that happening.

“I hate to sound like a broken record every year saying the same thing, but man . . . this is a different feeling right now,” Jackson said. “You feel the coaching staff. We’re high energy. We’re flying around. We’re ready for this thing to head in a different direction.”

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