Emmanuel Ogbah snuck up on the NFL in 2020.
The Miami Dolphins’ defensive end led the team with nine sacks last season, but it was Miami’s blitz-crazy amoeba defense that freed him up plenty, allowing the 6-foot-4, 275 pounder to get to the quarterback after beating one blocker — and sometimes as a free rusher — often last season.
This season, Ogbah, with a nine sacks on his resume so far, can’t skirt under the NFL’s radar.
Ogbah became the focal point for Miami’s defensive front in the opposition’s game plan. He’s been chipped by a tight end and tailback more often in 2021. He’s been double-teamed by two offensive linemen regularly, and it is clear that opposing coordinators are creating gameplans to neutralize his impact.
Yet, the sixth-year veteran is still delivering, equaling last season’s impressive mark with two games to go.
Ogbah, who has eclipsed his sack production (18) in his first four-year seasons in his two years with Miami, has been steady and forceful all season.
He’s on pace to have a career year while affecting every area of Miami’s defense, which heads into Sunday’s road game against Ryan Tannehill and the Tennessee Titans (10-5) as the NFL’s top sack-producing unit.
Ogbah has also deflected 10 passes at the line of scrimmage this season. It’s a career high for him, and the most by an NFL defensive lineman since Cameron Jordan knocked down 11 in 2017.
On top of his nine sacks, he also has 24 quarterback hits, which is tied for ninth among all NFL players.
The best part about his emergence is he’s done it when the stakes are at their highest, considering he’ll have turned 28 when his contract expires at the end of the season.
Ogbah isn’t just a consistent playmaker for the Dolphins, he’s also emerged as one of the team’s leaders, a player his position coach points to when it comes to showing his fellow linemates how he’d like something done.
“There’s a professionalism that you have to admire,” defensive line coach Austin Clark said.
“He leads by example,” defensive coordinator Josh Boyer added. “He comes in and puts a good day’s work in every day. He’s been able to [fill] multiple [roles] for us, and he’s been able to have some production. I would say the things that he’s doing for us over the course of the season, I think that’s been consistent.”
According to league sources, the Dolphins were hesitant to make an offer to extend Ogbah before the season started. They told his camp they wanted to see how the season played out before trying to lock him up on a multi-year deal coming off a career year.
Now that he’s double down on his sacks, serving as the premiere pass-rusher on the unit that leads the NFL with 45 sacks it’s safe to assume legendary rapper Fat Joe infamous line, “Yesterday’s price is not today’s price,” applies.
Ogbah has stayed out of the negotiations, understanding that he’ll either receive the franchise tag, which is projected at $20.2 million in 2022, or become an unrestricted free agent at the NFL’s second highest paid position.
“I told [agent Drew Rosenhaus] before the season I don’t want to be distracted with that, with that [contract] talk,” Ogbah said Thursday. “Like I told him, handle his business and I’ll handle mine on the field. That’s what we are both doing.”
There are three NFL defensive ends — Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, Dallas’ DeMarcus Lawrence and Kansas City’s Frank Clark — who earn more than $20 million annually.
The five-year, $90 million deal Trey Flowers signed with the Lions and the five-year, $85 million deal Arik Armstead got from the 49ers are the more realistic big deals for a 3-4 defensive end like Ogbah, whose game is based on power more than speed.
Flowers received $40 million when he left the Patriots as a free agent.
Last offseason Carl Lawson, a player who had a similar level of production as Ogbah, landed a three-year, $45 million deal from the Jets that guaranteed him $30 million.
No matter how you slice it, Ogbah will likely double up on the $7.5 million he made this season, which concluded the two-year, $15 million deal the Dolphins signed him to as a free agent in 2020.
There’s a comfort level and familiarity with the Dolphins, so Ogbah would love to re-sign. But he’s also aware the NFL’s a business, and this offseason is his opportunity to set his family up for generations.
“That’s definitely been my goal, to stay here a long time, and stay for the rest of my career,” said Ogbah, who called South Florida his offseason home before Miami signed him. “But whatever happens, happens. I’ll leave it in God’s hands.”
Source: Berkshire mont