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Can the Jaguars afford Yannick Ngakoue?

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have a few players absent from voluntary workouts in the former of Jalen Ramsey, Telvin Smith and Yannick Ngakoue. Ramsey is training on his own and looking for a new deal, the former is something he’s always done anyway. Smith is currently AWOL and Ngakoue has skipped out after showing up for the first week of workouts, presumably in a good faith showing while trying to get a new contract.

One question I’ve seen a lot is if the Jaguars can actually afford to pay Yannick Ngakoue at market value and if it will prevent the team from signing Jalen Ramsey long term. The short answer is yes they can and no it won’t.

Getting into the numbers, if the Jaguars want to keep Ngakoue it will not be cheap. If you look at some of the contracts at the position recently you can see that, especially for some players I personally think Ngakoue is just as good or better than. Trey Flowers signed a 5-year, $90 million deal with $40 million guaranteed. DeMarcus Lawrence signed a 5-year, $105 million deal with $48 guaranteed and Frank Clark signed a 5-year, $104 million deal with $43.8 guaranteed.

The sack totals for those players rank as follows; Flowers 21 sacks in 46 games, Lawrence has 34 sacks in 64 games, Clark has 35 sacks in 62 games and Ngakoue has 29.5 sacks in 48 games.

As you can see, Ngakoue is one or above their level in a raw numbers perspective and I’d bet his quarterback hurries and hits are as much or more than them as well.

My guess would be that the hope is that the Jaguars are able to lock up Ngakoue on a deal more similar to that of Trey Flowers instead of a deal eclipsing $100 million. Currently the Jaguars have $13.5 million in cap space, but they can free up more space if they feel it necessary by restructuring or they can simply play financial gymnastics and do something like a large signing bonus with a small 2019 salary to mitigate the cap hit. I expect the Jaguars to get a deal done with Ngakoue before the season and that’s likely how they’ll do it.

The real question many fans have however is; can the Jaguars still afford Jalen Ramsey if they re-sign Ngakoue?

Yes.

For the 2020 season the Jaguars can do things they’re likely going to be doing anyway, such as cutting Marcell Dareus to save $20 million in cap space. Jake Ryan has kind of a dummy year in his contract for 2020 where it’s a straight $6 million in savings. You’ll also likely release DJ Hayden to save $6 million, etc. The Jaguars have continuously set themselves up to move on from contracts when they need to in a way to be able to re-sign their own players, since they finally have players worth re-signing.

You also have to remember the team has picked up Jalen Ramsey’s fifth-year option and will still have the franchise tag as an option, so it’s not something really worth worrying about at this point.

Just remember: The salary cap is fake.