The Jaguars are at a crossroad — at least when it comes to star pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue. The Jaguars drafted Ngakoue in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Since then, all he's done is rack up 243 pressures, 37.5 sacks, and 14 forced fumbles.
Aside from a short contract-related holdout in 2019, Ngakoue has been a model citizen when it comes to being a teammate and hard worker.
After months of cryptic tweets and speculation, Ngakoue revealed on Monday morning that he has no desire to sign a long term contract with the Jaguars.
"The Jaguars are aware I no longer have interest in signing a long term contract in Jacksonville. Duval, I love you and gave you guys everything I got. I'm thankful for the journey and look forward to continuing my career elsewhere." - Yannick Ngakoue via Twitter.
Just after Ngakoue's tweet, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the Jaguars would use the franchise tag on Yannick Ngakoue. Placing the non-exclusive tag on Ngakoue will likely open up the trade market for the young edge rusher. Ngakoue will turn 25 before the start of the season and should be in line for the best years of his career over the next 4-5 seasons.
The Jaguars could certainly trade Ngakoue, but by refusing to trade him, they could also force him to play in Jacksonville or sit out in 2020. It's not clear what steps the Jaguars will take now. But there are plenty of questions to be asked.
Would Ngakoue play in 2020 under the franchise tag? Ngakoue is a fantastic teammate, but he's also extremely prideful.
What type of compensation could the Jaguars get back in a trade for Ngakoue? Last offseason, the Seahawks traded Frank Clark, who was in a similar situation and received a 2019 first-round pick, a 2020 second-round pick, and a swap of third-round picks in 2019. Conversely, the Cheifs traded Dee Ford to the 49ers and received only a second-round pick.
If the Jaguars do trade Ngakoue, will they be in the market for a new pass rusher in 2020? For the better part of the last half-decade, the Jaguars have been keen on having at least three quality edge rushers. If Ngakoue is no longer with the club, Calais Campbell and Josh Allen would be the only legitimate threats off the edge. The Jaguars could look to sign a defensive end or draft one early in the draft.
An unfortunate pattern of not being able to keep young stars in Duval is developing. Some of the best young talent acquired during the Dave Caldwell era is now scattered across the league. Allen Robinson, Jalen Ramsey, Dante Fowler, Allen Lazard, and Sheldon Day are all making an impact elsewhere. Telvin Smith doesn't even play football anymore. What does that say about the environment in Jacksonville?
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