Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (37.5 career sacks) could very well be playing in his last game as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Exiting the final year of his four-year contract signed as a third-round draft pick in 2016, Jacksonville has yet to lock up their star pass rusher.
In hopes of securing a new contract, Ngakoue skipped the team’s mandatory minicamp and 11 games of training camp in an effort to receive a contract extension. After failed attempts, and a reported contract offer, the young pass rusher decided to end his hold out to be back with his team and play out his final year.
Fast forwarding to this week, it will be the last chance for Ngakoue to play with his team this season, and potentially moving forward if he and the team cannot come to terms on a contract extension.
In a caption posted on Instagram, Ngakoue stated, “One more Ride. All praises to you Lord.”
When asked if this was his final game as a Jaguars player by former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Ngakoue responded, “victory Lap”.
The Jaguars could potentially use the franchise tag on the team’s second-all time sack leader, however, it remains to be seen whether or not he would even sign the franchise tag at this point. Remember: Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney declined to sign a franchise tag with the Houston Texans this offseason and was ultimately traded to the Seattle Seahawks as a result.
Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash indicated earlier this week he would like to see the fourth-year defensive end remain with the team saying, “I want what is best for him (Ngakoue)” on Thursday during his weekly press conference with the local media.
“The organization will decide if he is going to be able to come back or not, but I think he has put some really good stuff on tape,” Wash said. “We challenged him early in the year, in the offseason when he was here, about playing the run. I think he has improved statistically against the run, and he is rushing the passer well. He has a bright future wherever it may be, but for the organization’s sake, I hope he is a Jaguar for a long time.”
The organization at this point cannot afford to move on from yet another young-ascending player at a premier position on defense — even with rookie defensive end Josh Allen in the fold. At just 24 years old, Ngakoue has not only risen to second all-time on the Jaguars franchise record for sacks (eight this season), he has accumulated 13 forced fumbles over his carer including three this season alone.
3 blocks couldn't stop Yannick Ngakoue.— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) December 21, 2019
He played one of his best games as a Jaguar on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/wxhnVTHJbH
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone spoke about Ngakoue’s mindset throughout the season and talked about his laser-like focus during the season.
“He is only one speed,” Marrone said on Friday. “He is 100 miles per hour working to get better every day. If anything, you have to kind of pull him back a little bit. That is what you want as a coach. You want to be like, ‘Hey, just pull it back a little bit.’ He just goes.”
Marrone also on Friday indicated the pass rusher has never made any noise regarding his potential contract extension, and has always come in with a smile on his face, zero frustration.
“We all know the contract issue that is out there, but for my appreciation as a coach and the assistant coaches would say, that is never ever talked about nor are there ever any actions that show any frustration...He’s a heck of a player. You know how you always wonder, ‘What the hell are those coaches talking about when they are out there on the field pregame?’ Well, a lot of times those guys will be [saying], ‘Hey, that 91, that guy can go. He’s got a motor.’ So, he’s got a lot of respect, not only in this building, but around the league.”