Over his four year career (really, only three years due to injury) Allen Robinson was the first great wide receiver the Jacksonville Jaguars since — and I say this without hyperbole — Jimmy Smith.
In just his second season, he had 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns, arguably the best season a Jaguars receiver has ever had. Jimmy Smith may have had more yards in 1999 but he’s never cracked a double-digit touchdown season.
After three productive years in which Robinson averaged just under 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns a season (again, Smith has never gotten 9 touchdowns in a single season) he suffered an awful season ending injury at the start of Year 4, his contract year.
“No problem,” we all thought. “There’s no way the Jaguars low ball one of the best players at their position in franchise history.”
March 13, 2018. Robinson signs with the Chicago Bears. It’s essentially a 2-year, $28 million contract with an out in 2020.
The Jaguars, in turn, signed Donte Moncrief to a 1-year, $9.6 million contract and Marqise Lee to (essentially) a 2-year, $9.3 million contract with an out in 2020.
Moncrief is no longer with the team. Lee’s best season so far with the team is still less productive than Robinson’s average in Jacksonville.
So... why do I say all that?
Because Yannick Ngakoue is in the exact same position and the Jaguars are doing the exact same thing.
Robinson, after just three years, was the third most productive receiver in franchise history. In fact, he still is. And he trails Keenan McCardell by only 8 touchdowns!
Ngakoue, after just three years, is the third most productive pass rusher in franchise history. His 29.5 sacks is behind only Joel Smeenge (34.0) and Tony Brackens (55.0). He will surpass Smeenge if he has even a bad year.
And I firmly believe Robinson wanted to be here long term, just as Ngakoue wants to be here long term. They would not have had to “break the bank” as team sources and local media lapdogs would have you believe.
Now, what makes Ngakoue’s situation a bit different is that by locking up Myles Jack long term, the team has the option of applying the franchise tag to the fourth-year pass rusher in 2020 and pushing a decision on him out a year. Ngakoue, I believe, will play for that tag. And then they’ll have the cap benefits from cutting the players they’re going to cut — Marcell Dareus, A.J. Bouye, D.J. Hayden — that they can afford Ngakoue.
But it’s a dangerous game you’re playing, Jaguars. And you’re only making Ngakoue’s contract more expensive.
The smart move is to re-sign Ngakoue now to an extension, because in two or three years time that contract will look like a steal with rising caps and premier players willing to hold out for what they think they’re worth.