HOUSTON — Emmanuel Ogbah bet on himself in an important decision that paid huge dividends. Ogbah earned his new four-year, $65 million contract that includes $32 million guaranteed at signing after playing out his original two-year, $15.1 million deal with the Dolphins. Ultimately, Ogbah outplayed that contract and signed one that rewards his status as one of the most consistently productive edge rushers in the NFL.
Emmanuel Ogbah bet on himself and cashed in on huge deal with Dolphins
Ogbah recorded a team-high nine sacks last season and led all NFL front-seven players with 12 pass breakups. He finished with 39 quarterback pressures, 24 quarterback hits, 15 hurries, 13 knockdowns, nine tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
Reflecting on the watershed career moment during his annual youth football camp at George Bush High School, his alma mater, Ogbah is overjoyed at what transpired.
“Drew [Rosenhaus] could tell you himself: It was very emotional for me and my family,” said Ogbah, who was joined at his camp by his father, former college teammate Vincent Taylor, Rosenhaus and agent Ryan Matha. “It was a long time coming. We had some obstacles we had to go through with the injuries, signing a deal, and playing through the deal. Betting on yourself, it all paid off in the end.”
Now, Ogbah is even more determined to build on his success and keep growing with a talented Dolphins defense that includes outside linebacker Jaelan Phillips, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, linebacker Jerome Baker, cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, and safeties Brandon Jones and Jevon Holland.
“The defense, for sure, can be scary this year because we all know each other,” Ogbah said. “We all know what each other are capable of, our strengths and our weaknesses. We’re all going to help each other and compete with each other. It’s an exciting time for the defense. We’re excited.
“We’re looking good right now, but we’ve got to compete. You shouldn’t sleep, but we’re just going to do our job. You can keep sleeping on us, but we’re just going to keep handling our responsibilities.”
Ogbah bullish on Jaelan Phillips’ development
Ogbah has witnessed significant growth from Phillips this offseason, and he expects even more from the athletically gifted defender.
“Jaelan surprised me this offseason,” Ogbah said. “He has the mentality. I’m excited to see his growth this year. I’m excited to see him work, and we got Melvin (Ingram), too. I’m excited for him to be a part of the team.”
Individually, Ogbah has emerged as a reliable player capable of generating big plays. He has 36 career sacks, 37 tackles for loss, and 85 quarterback hits. Ogbah is a major reason why the Dolphins ranked in the top 10 among NFL defenses in sack rate the past two seasons.
“Just be more of a leader this year and keep doing what I’ve been doing: leading the team,” Ogbah said. “Thinking of me as a vet, I’m back there, helping the younger guys and just speak up when I need to and be a captain of the team. You can always get better at everything. The sacks, the batted balls, or just tackling — go back and watch the film and improve on the little things.”
‘Different mentality’ with Mike McDaniel
Ogbah has felt a lot of energy surrounding the team since the arrival of new coach Mike McDaniel.
“It’s exciting,” Ogbah said. “Coach Mike, he’s different. He brings that different mentality to the offense. He doesn’t really say much to the defense. He does his thing. I know Tua [Tagovailoa] loves him. I can’t wait to see the offense grow.”
Vincent Taylor, a former Dolphins, Browns and Houston Texans defensive tackle — now with the Atlanta Falcons — has seen Ogbah grow since their college days and being drafted by Cleveland in the second round. Ogbah was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he earned a Super Bowl ring before joining the Dolphins.
Ogbah has nine sacks in each of the past two seasons and has combined for 83 tackles for the Dolphins during that span.
“That’s my dog. That’s my right-hand guy,” Taylor said during the camp. “We have a strong relationship together. I know his parents, he knows my parents. Everything he got, he worked for, and he deserved it. Even before he got the contract, I told him, ‘It’s coming, just keep working.’ What we’ve got is real. That’s like my brother. I’m happy for him.”
Ogbah’s drive to help others
Ogbah was born in Nigeria and moved to Houston when he was nine years old. To be able to give back and teach lessons about football and life is significant to him.
“It feels good just giving back to my old community,” Ogbah said. “This is my old high school. They were with me when I was really young. Seeing these youngsters, just to show them a kid like me coming from around here like you, if I can make it, you guys can do it, too. Education is really important.
“I got my degree in college. Just giving back to the community, it doesn’t matter if you’re a football player, a lawyer, a doctor, or anything, as long as you know how to give back to your community. Not everyone is as fortunate as you are. Since I was a little kid, I told my dad I wanted to give back. I wanted to help the people less fortunate than me.”
Texas is well known for producing high-quality football players, especially in the Houston region. The Dolphins have taken notice, adding several standout players from the area, including Ogbah, Howard, and wide receiver Jaylen Waddle.
“You know, Houston is a football city,” Ogbah said. “We breed a lot of football players. The Dolphins looked at that, and that’s why they’ve got us all in the building.”