With the deadline to sign franchised-tagged players to long-term contracts quickly approaching, the Jaguars and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue appear to still be at an impasse, likely ending the day with no long-term contract for the 2020 season.
As NFL rules stipulate, teams around the league will have until 4 p.m. ET to franchise-tagged players to long-term contracts, otherwise, they will be forced to play out the season on one-year contracts. For Ngakoue, he would play on a one-year $17.8 million contract in 2020, the value of the defensive end franchise tag for the 2020 season.
For the Jaguars, Ngakoue has always been a player the team has valued, if only due to his fierce pass-rushing capabilities which he has demonstrated over his four years with the team. In total, Ngakoue has accounted for 37.5 sacks, good for second all-time in franchise history.
The Jaguars assigned Ngakoue as their franchise player on March 13th, just before the opening of free agency in an effort to extend the time they had to negotiate a long-term deal with the defensive end. While general manager Dave Caldwell spoke with optimism during his end-of-the-year press conference in getting a deal done, that has changed completely, resulting in a perceived cut off of negotiations of any sort.
Last offseason, the Jaguars and Ngakoue’s team did hold negotiations, however former Jaguars vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin cut the negotiations short, resulting in an 11-day holdout by Ngakoue and the beginning of a - now -, long-standing conflict between himself and the team.
On March 2nd, Ngakoue requested a trade from the team, announcing publicly that he was “no longer” interested in signing a long-term deal with the team.
Even if the team were to want to re-sign Ngakoue still, his price tag has likely gone up even higher after the four-year $85M extension signed yesterday by Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Johns and the five-year $125M extension signed by Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.
The Jaguars have yet to give in to his trade demand, however, yesterday NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported teams are still interested in the young defensive end, however, such deal would not come easy and the Jaguars remain firm in their request for a sizable return.
To keep an eye on as Wed's deadline grows closer: There remains some interest around the NFL in trading for #Jaguars pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue, I’m told. Would be a difficult, complicated deal to do, but not impossible. For Jax, it would have to make sense compensation-wise.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 14, 2020
Any trade the Jaguars would accomplish for large compensation would likely need to come before the deadline as teams will be less likely to trade much for a player that will essentially be a rental.
Former Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, for example, faced a similar dilemma last year as he refused to sign his franchise tender and was ultimately traded to the Seattle Seahawks following the deadline. However, the Texans received very little compensation compared to Clowney’s perceived worth, adding only two special teams players and a 2020 third-round selection.
The Jaguars could find themselves in a similar position today and moving forward if no deal of any kind is reached before today’s deadline. As such, it’s very likely that the team simply retains Ngakoue. As the Jaguars have stated in the past, he is still very much a part of their plans in 2020.
“We’ll welcome him back with open arms when he’s ready to come back and we look forward to it,” Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said during the draft in April. “Yann, for the people on this call and who have been around him realize he is a tremendous player, tremendous person, has always been first-class in everything he’s done here in the locker room and through his time here, the first four years of his contract.
“Obviously, he feels things have not gone the way he wanted and, in some aspects, he may have a point. But we put our best foot forward not once, but twice. I hope he sees the light that Jacksonville is a good spot and it could, at the end of the day, be his only option.”