Can the Jaguars and Yannick Ngakoue find mutual ground?
By David Levin
Will the contract dispute between Yannick Ngakoue and the Jacksonville Jaguars continue through the 2019 NFL season?
In the end, when it comes to the tug-of-war between Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and the front office, It becomes a matter of dollars and sense.
There is no doubt that Ngakoue, the fourth-year pass rusher from Maryland, has outplayed his rookie deal that will pay him just over $2 million this season. There is also no disputing the Jaguars made him an offer this off-season that the rising star did not accept. Many thought it was acceptable given the average yearly salary was $19 million with $50 million over the first two years.
Still, Ngakoue reported to camp, is playing Thursday night and is still a man without a contract extension.
I have to ask, which side will budge first so that a deal will be in place, and writers like myself will stop questioning the madness of the decision not to lock up one of the best pass rushers in the NFL today?
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Ngakoue returned to TIAA Bank Field this past weekend and has said all the right things, didn’t dodge the media but really didn’t want to talk about the fact there was no new contract. For everything that has gone wrong with this process over the summer, the man who had 9.5 sacks last year for the Jaguars has stated he knows his worth, and he knows his ability on the field.
He has said repeatedly he is betting on himself this year, which he does every season. He also knows that buy not taking a deal that was offered, he is risking the potential of not cashing on a big payday should an injury occur.
What we are witnessing is that the NFL is a business first, which means players of his age and his potential need to cash in when the moment is right.
I have no doubt that Ngakoue is going to use what didn’t happen this off-season as motivation to prove just how good he, in which the Jaguars will benefit from. The Jaguars defense had 55 sacks in 2017 but dipped to 37 last year. It’s a good bet this unit could approach the same numbers it did two seasons ago.
Ngakoue must continue on the same path he has traveled the last three seasons and play to the best of his ability. The team’s front office stood it’s ground offering him what was a “short term” deal before training camp. It might come back to hurt the organization in the end. There is no word if Ngakoue’s camp and the Jaguars will continue to negotiate a new deal during the season, but until his future in Jacksonville is solidified, this continues to be a story we follow to see which moves the next chess piece.
As Ngakoue said, it is out of his hands.
For now, Jacksonville has won the battle. It may not be able to retain their star player if a new deal is put in place before the end of the season. Ultimately, it would mean the Jaguars lost the war.