"I feel like it was meant for me to be here," Ngakoue said, via the Chicago Tribune. "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."
What's more interesting about Ngakoue's decision to move to Chicago is how it compares to the motivations he listed prior to signing. Ngakoue said in June he was looking for both a title contender and a place where he could plant roots with a multi-year contract, securing his future and allowing him to start a family.
Instead, he signed a one-year deal with a Bears team that is still early in its journey toward contention.
Ngakoue will undoubtedly receive opportunities to prove his worth. The edge rusher will be used as an every-down defender, Bears coach Matt Eberflus told reporters, meaning Ngakoue will not only be able to test his excellent pass-rushing ability, but also prove he's a quality run defender.
"They'll see this year," Ngakoue said of those doubting his ability to stop the run.
Ngakoue's arrival was welcomed by existing Bears defenders both young and old. Safety Eddie Jackson didn't hide his excitement, telling reporters "It's just getting scarier and scarier."
"You're just adding more talent and more talent," Jackson said. "When you've got a lot of large group of talented players and people that are actually locked in and really love football, that's just more fuel to the fire. We feel like, 'OK we just keep taking it up a notch.' Now we done added him. It's like, 'Oh, man, it's up.' Like this thing is headed in the right direction."
In a best-case scenario, Ngakoue's 2023 season sees the Bears surprise the rest of the football world by reaching the playoffs, and Ngakoue has a stellar year that earns him a multi-year contract. More realistically, with frequent playing time on the table, he'll have a chance to demonstrate he's worth pursuing for a team with higher expectations in 2024 -- which could include Chicago.
Regardless, Ngakoue is employed at a rate that isn't exactly cheap. Now it's about proving he's worth the money -- both now and in the future.
"I feel like I'm blessed to be able to produce consistently, and that's what I plan on doing for my team here," Ngakoue said.