JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Yannick Ngakoue clearly hasn’t softened his stance on wanting to get out of Jacksonville. However, a league source said that though teams have called to ask about Ngakoue, the Jaguars haven’t received a single trade offer.
Unless that changes -- and any serious offer would have to include at least one first-round pick -- Ngakoue might be forced to pick between the $17.8 million he is due to make in 2020 on the franchise tag and sitting out the season.
Ngakoue isn’t budging at this point, based on his comments Tuesday on social media. In reply to a tweet from NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo about the Jaguars' having received calls about the defensive end, Ngakoue reiterated his stance that he doesn’t want to play for the Jaguars.
This saga has been going on for nearly 10 months. It started in July, when former executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin abruptly broke off negotiations with Ngakoue and his agent, Ari Nissim. The Jaguars reportedly offered Ngakoue a deal that would pay him $19 million annually, but Ngakoue turned it down, and he played last season -- after an 11-day training camp holdout -- for $2.025 million, a considerable bargain for a player who racked up 29.5 sacks in three seasons.
Ngakoue was gambling that he would have a better offer this season, especially after Trey Flowers ($18 million annually, $56 million guaranteed), Frank Clark ($21.1 million/$63.5 million) and DeMarcus Lawrence ($21 million/$65 million) got big deals in March and April. Entering the 2019 season, Ngakoue had more sacks than Flowers and was 5.5 behind Clark and 4.5 behind Lawrence, though Lawrence had an additional season.
The market has softened, however, and pass-rushers didn’t cash in the way they did in 2019. Dante Fowler Jr., Ngakoue’s former Jaguars teammate, got a three-year deal with Atlanta that pays him $15 million annually. He had 11.5 sacks last season with the Rams, which is 3.5 more than Ngakoue had with the Jaguars. Robert Quinn’s five-year deal with Chicago pays him $14 million annually, and he has 80.5 sacks in nine seasons, including 11.5 last season in Dallas.
Jadeveon Clowney has 32 sacks in six seasons -- Ngakoue has 37.5 in four, which puts him second on the Jaguars’ all-time list -- and is still unsigned after reportedly seeking a deal that pays him $20 million annually. Clowney is coming off a season in which he had just three sacks, his lowest season total since he had none in his four games as a rookie in 2014.
Ngakoue had eight sacks in 15 games last season, but he also had four forced fumbles. That gives him 14 in his career, which is more than that of all but three players from 2016 to '19: Chandler Jones (17), Khalil Mack (17) and T.J. Watt (15). In addition, Ngakoue was directly responsible for five of the 12 defensive touchdowns the Jaguars have scored since 2016: a pick-six, a fumble return and three forced fumbles on sacks that other players recovered for TDs. He forced a fumble that resulted in a touchdown in the playoffs after the 2017 season.
Ngakoue is clearly worth a deal that would pay him close to $20 million annually, and there’s still a chance that if he changed his mind about staying in Jacksonville, the Jaguars' offer from last season could be revived. But if he's determined to not play in Jacksonville, he could be stuck.
Barring a trade, Ngakoue has a couple of deadlines to consider. If he doesn’t sign a long-term extension with the Jaguars by 4 p.m. ET July 14, he can play for the Jaguars only on the franchise tag ($17.8 million). Ngakoue could choose not to sign the tender and hold out in hopes of forcing a trade, but he would have until the Tuesday following the 10th week of the regular season to sign the tender.
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone, who has been one of Ngakoue’s biggest supporters and praised him for the way he never brought his contract dispute into the locker room or onto the field, hopes things get sorted out long before then.
“Yannick’s been great. I mean, in everything that he’s done,” Marrone said. “He’s done everything that I’ve asked him to do as a head coach and everything that [defensive coordinator] Todd Wash has asked him to do as a defensive lineman.
"When the business starts getting involved, it’s tough because as a coach, you always want your players to be happy, and you want the best for your players. So from that standpoint, I understand the challenges that are going on for Yan. What you do as a coach is you hope that all the stuff can be resolved in a positive way for everyone. So I’m just hoping that somewhere down the line or somehow, all the stuff can be resolved.”