The Jacksonville Jaguars slapped the franchise tag on star defensive end Yannick Ngakoue earlier this year, and the sides were never close to a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline. Ngakoue has made no secret he doesn't plan to sign the tender worth $17.8 million and that he plans to never suit up for the team again. The 25-year-old could get his ticket out very soon, according to Michael Lombardi of the Athletic.
On Wednesday night, Lombardi tweeted out: "According to NFL sources, Jacksonville is extremely close to trading Yannick Ngakoue today or tomorrow, have a firm offer in place--(hearing a two). looks like this holdout will be over soon."
Ngakoue has not reported to camp nor even signed his tender – the new collective bargaining agreement severely penalizes players under contract who hold out of camp (which is why Dalvin Cook is in Vikings camp), but Ngakoue is not under contract. He would have to sign the tender – only player in NFL yet to sign his -- before any trade could happen and recently signed with a new agency.
Jags GM David Caldwell said Thursday that has had conversations with Ngakoue and his new representation in hopes of finding a "good resolution" for both sides, but there is "nothing immediate that's gonna happen here."
The Jags took Ngakoue with the 69th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of Maryland, and he has proven a steal. Ngakoue has had at least eight sacks each season and his 37.5 sacks are the most by a Jaguars player through 63 career games in franchise history (he missed one game last year).
In fact, Ngakoue is only player over the last decade in the league to post at least 37.5 sacks and 14 forced fumbles through 63 career games. Of his 37.5 sacks, 12 have been strip-sacks. Ngakoue has forced 14 fumbles, fourth-most in the NFL since 2016.
Needless to say, any team would want him, but the Jaguars aren't simply going to give him away. Any club trading for him now would have to have the cap room to assume that $17.8 million contract and the room going forward to hand him a massive extension.
It appears it's a four-team race for Ngakoue – with all respect to various rumors linking the Giants, Dolphins, Ravens, Cardinals and Bills.
The New York Jets are the favorites via SportsLine oddsmakers to land Ngakoue because they have plenty of cap space now and in 2021 and haven't had a player with double-digit sacks since 2013. They need a franchise defensive cornerstone after recently trading All-Pro safety Jamal Adams to the Seahawks – which landed the Jets enough draft picks that they could easily give up a second-rounder (if that report is true) for Ngakoue. Maybe even Seattle's 2021 first-rounder. Lombardi also tweeted the Jets are "deeply involved" in trade talks.
Seattle lost two first-round picks for Adams but has yet to replace the pass-rushing ability of Jadeveon Clowney, who remains on the market. Might be simpler for the Seahawks to simply re-sign him. They were also in on Everson Griffen but lost out to the Cowboys.
The Las Vegas Raiders reportedly made Clowney an offer, but it wasn't high enough. The Raiders want to make a splash in the first season in Sin City and they talked trade with the Jags before training camp. The Silver & Black had only 32 sacks last year and have yet to adequately replace Khalil Mack. The Raiders are tight up against the cap, though.
Finally, the Philadelphia Eagles, who also have been linked to Clowney. Adding Ngakoue (or Clowney) would give the team arguably the best front four in the NFL with Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Javon Hargrave and Derek Barnett already in place – Bennett in theory could be expendable and part of a trade package for Ngakoue. While the Eagles have plenty of cap space currently, the are WAY over the projected cap for 2021.
Via SportsLine NFL oddsmakers: Which team does Yannick Ngakoue play for in 2020?
- Jets +150
- Seahawks +300
- Raiders +400
- Eagles +500
- Other +750
- Jaguars +1800
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