The Jaguars — along with all other teams — will have until March 16th after the NFL once again extended the deadline for the franchise and transition tag while the league and NFLPA awaits a decision on the proposed NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement.
There is, however, a possibility of the team foregoing the franchise tag, and instead using the transition tag.
A transition tag guarantees the original club the right of first refusal, and grants the team — in this case the Jaguars — the ability to match any offer the player may receive on the open market. This means, Ngakoue would be eligible to assess his free agent market, and potentially sign with another team, however the Jaguars could simply match (up to a week).
As recently as 2014, the Jaguars signed transition-tag player former Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack to a 5-year, $42M contract. The Browns quickly matched the deal and Mack was ultimately on a long-term deal in Cleveland.
If the Jaguars were to transition tag Ngakoue they would owe him less money. According to OverTheCap.com, the projected 2020 transition tag will cost a team $16,338,000 for a defensive end. For comparison, the franchise tag tender for a defensive end is currently projected to be around $19,316,000.
On the other hand, if the Jaguars were to tender Ngakoue with the non-exclusive franchise tag, Jacksonville would receive two first round selections as compensation if Ngakoue is signed by any other team and the Jaguars choose not to match the offer.
It is possible that the Jaguars could assess Ngakoue’s market enough prior to the deadline and find the market he is set to receive is financially feasible, with the expectation that they would be willing to match the offer he receives. The largest shortfall, however, would be that if the Jaguars do not match the deal, the team will receive no compensation for the 25-year-old defensive end.
While Ngakoue has stated that he is no longer interested in signing a long-term contract for the Jaguars, this would be a way for the team to get around that. He could either play the year on a transition tag, sit out the year missing out on over $16M, or sign an offer sheet and likely play on a long-term deal with the Jaguars anyways.
Still, the Jaguars are very likely to simply use the franchise tag on Ngakoue, and trade him, or simply allow him to play on the tag for a fill season at the ~$19M figure. While the transition tag presents some intrigue, the Jaguars likely would not want to put themselves in a hole, deciding between a lack of compensation, or spending more than they were originally willing to.