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Jaguars should pay Yannick Ngakoue before he’s too expensive

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Indianapolis Colts v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars should go ahead and extend defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, before he becomes too expensive. The former third-round pick and Pro Bowl pass rusher is entering the final year of his rookie contract and it would be smart for the Jaguars to go ahead and try to lock him up long term, before the 2019 season starts.

Ngakoue burst onto the scene as a rookie, quickly unseating former third overall pick Dante Fowler, Jr. who was coming back from a torn ACL. Ngakoue notched eight sacks as a rookie, including four forced fumbles and appeared to be the budding edge rusher the team has missed since Reggie Heyward blew up his Achilles. He followed up his excellent rookie season with a 12 sack season and a Pro Bowl in 2017, including another six forced fumbles and appeared to be a star on the rise. Last season Ngakoue’s production, while still good, dipped to just 9.5 and no forced fumbles, but make no mistake, he was every bit a disruptive force in the backfield even if the sack total didn’t show it.

Ngakoue ended the 2018 season top three in quarterback hits and top 10 in quarterback pressures. Typically players who rank high in those areas convert a lot of those into sacks, but for whatever reason Ngakoue was juuuuuuuuust close on quite a few of those quarterback hits and pressures, which would make one think that the pendulum will swing the other way in 2019, especially with a hopefully renewed offense.

After the 2019 NFL Draft and before the start of training camp, the Jaguars should go ahead and make the move to sign Ngakoue long term. He has 29.5 sacks in his first three seasons and hasn’t really shown any signs of slowing down or being figured out as a pass rusher.

The real question is how much will Ngakoue command and the short answer is it won’t be cheap.

Recently the Dallas Cowboys re-signed DeMarcus Lawrence to the tune of a five-year, $105 million deal with $65 million guaranteed. Lawrence was a 2014 second-round pick of the Cowboys and didn’t really burst on the scene until his second season with eight sacks, then suffered a big injured essentially making him miss a year, and rebounding with 14.5 and 10.5 sacks respectively. In free agency the Detroit Lions handed Trey Flowers a five-year, $90 million deal with $56 million guaranteed in free agency and I think Ngakoue is overall a better player than Flowers.

So how much is Ngakoue going to make?

If you don’t like big deals, stop reading... because I think Ngakoue will get close to what those other two players got. When you’ve got a good pass rusher you don’t let them walk and they cost a premium. That’s why the Jaguars should go ahead and try to get a deal done now, prior to the 2019 season before the price goes up even further. While the team does have the franchise tag available to keep someone like Ngakoue, you might as well just get it done and over with now with the hopes that in two seasons it looks like a “deal”.