Jaguars EVP Tom Coughlin would not comment on the contract status of Yannick Ngakoue Wednesday, other than to say there are five games left in the season.
As Coughlin spoke for the first time in seven months on various topics regarding the organization and how the roster and coaching staff needed to do a better job this weekend and the rest of the season, Ngakoue’s name was mentioned and whether the team is interested in bringing him back. It was answered in one sentence.
"“We have five games to play and everyone has a lot to prove,” Coughlin said."
Not the ringing endorsement you want to hear as there are a handful of games remaining in the season and you don’t have a contract for next season. That’s exactly where exactly Ngakoue is with the Jaguars front office.
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Ngakoue has six sacks this season and three forced fumbles in 10 games. He has 35.5 sacks over his career and 13 forced fumbles. He has mastered the strip-sack and is one of the best young pass rushers in the NFL.
As he continues to play some of the best football of his career in the past three games, there is no new news of a contract extension that was first offered to him prior to the beginning of camp that the fourth-year star declined.
Since then the topic of the former third-round pick in his place with the Jaguars in the future hasn’t been discussed by Coughlin anybody else in the front office. The topic was brought up again later in the press conference where the evasive former head coach avoided any real comment for a second time.
"When asked whether any progress has been made in contract negotiations, Coughlin stated, “That is not for discussion today, and it wouldn’t be in this setting anyways.”"
Back in July, it was reported that Ngakoue’s camp turned down an offer the Jaguars offered because it was a “short term” deal. Per NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero in July, the Jaguars’ offer would’ve paid out $19 million per season that would have made him the fourth-highest paid defensive end behind Khalil Mack, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Frank Clark.
After a slow start to the 2019 season, which was hindered by a hamstring injury, Ngakoue has come on strong, especially after the bye week. His play was praised by head coach Doug Marrone during his teleconference on Monday afternoon.
"“He’s a player, he works his butt off, and you can see the results on the field. Some guys are good at sacking the quarterback, and there’s some guys that are really good that just have this craft, or they work on it,” Marrone said. “And he does it in practice all the time, even though obviously we don’t hit our quarterback, but he works on that off-hand, or whatever it may be, free to be able to get [the football].“So, he takes a lot of pride in that and he’s done a heck of a job with it. I think somebody was telling me a stat, like 1/3 of his career sacks are strip sacks. So, it’s a big point, it’s a big play. It’s a turnover. Every time he gets close to the quarterback, I’m thinking always strip sack and he does a good job of it, he can get on the edge.”"
With Coughlin’s edict to the front office, team and coaching staff, there is little else known other than the next five weeks are now a “prove it” type of situation for everyone involved. The local and national media have been critical of the team’s defense and how the Jaguars have been exploited in the past three weeks by AFC South opponents, which has virtually closed the door on any possibility of a postseason berth.
A loss on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could also seal the fate of the coaching staff and front office personnel. Five weeks may be the longest or shortest timeframe in the history of the franchise to either make progress or look for employment elsewhere in 2020.