The NFL franchise tag period opened today and will run through March 12th. The Jaguars can officially place the franchise tag and Yannick Ngakoue if they so choose.
As the days go by, it seems more and more likely that the Jaguars and Yannick Ngakoue are unlikely to get a long-term contract done this offseason.
Ngakoue has delivered a series of cryptic tweets over the last several weeks and months. He shared perhaps his most direct message on Wednesday morning:
While the Jaguars’ brass has remained publicly committed to a Yannick Ngakoue return to Duval, it appears he has a different plan.
If Ngakoue is truly unwilling to agree to a long-term contract in Jacksonville, the Jaguars will be forced to place the non-exclusive franchise tag on him. Ngakoue seems unlikely to sign the tender offered by the Jaguars. If that's the case, the Jags would likely open up trade talks, just as the Chiefs, Texans, and Seahawks did last year with Dee Ford, Jadeveon Clowney, and Frank Clark respectively.
There will certainly be teams interested in trading for Yannick Ngakoue and signing him to a long term deal. But the Jaguars may not be able to land the huge haul that the Seahawks got for Clark.
Contract negotiations would be more difficult between Ngakoue and his new team if a new collective bargaining agreement is not agreed upon between the NFL and the NFLPA. The 30% rule would prevent his potential future team from using a large signing bonus in year one to reduce his cap hit in 2020. But if it ended up being a team that wasn’t strapped for cash, it wouldn’t be as much of an issue. I could see the Jaguars potentially landing a first-round pick for Ngakoue, but it’s more likely to be a second and a mid-round pick.
The Jaguars do have an alternative route. Even if Ngakoue refuses to sign the franchise tag, the Jags could decide not to enter into trade talks for the star pass rusher. They could force him to either sign the tender or sit out in 2020. Ngakoue is a prideful human, but he’s also a team player. He would have a difficult time sitting out a full season. If the Jaguars did elect not to trade Ngakoue, they would be able to use the franchise tag again next season, if they so choose, depending on what happens with the new CBA.
If/when it becomes clear that Ngakoue has no future with the Jaguars, the team would be forced to move on from a roster-building standpoint.
Would a defensive end room of Calais Campbell, Josh Allen, Dawuane Smoot, and Lerentee McCray be enough heading into a must-win season?
In this scenario, the Jaguars could look to supplement their pass rush with another edge player in free agency or the draft.
In free agency, there are a number of potential fits including Arik Armstead and Everson Griffen.
More keen on adding a talented pass rusher in the draft? K’Lavon Chaisson and AJ Epenesa could be targeted in round one.
Keeping Yannick Ngakoue around long-term would be the most preferable option. He’s a self-motivated ascending pass rusher with proven production. But the Jaguars won’t be out of options if they can’t come to terms with Ngakoue. The Jaguars would certainly be able to allocate their cap space elsewhere in an attempt to sure up some other holes on their roster.
Before making a permanent decision, the Jaguars will likely need to figure out what happens with the new collective bargaining agreement. This situation could be up in the air until the dust settles on the current CBA talks. In the short-term, the Jaguars have until March 12th to place the franchise tag on Ngakoue. The possibility for a long-term extension to be agreed upon after the Jaguars place the franchise tag on Ngakoue also exists.
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