With changes to the Jacksonville Jaguars front office, signing their top free agent to a new deal is paramount for the franchise.
It was reported last week, amid the news that Jaguars team owner Shad Khan had fired executive vice-president of football operations Tom Coughlin, that contract talks with pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue had broken off too soon prior to the start of training camp.
Now, the team can make amends for that.
Ngakoue’s sack numbers aren’t amongst the best in the NFL, but his play over the second half of the season has been some of the best in his four seasons with the Jaguars, which leads many to question whether No. 91 will be a member of this roster next season. It was reported the team (or Coughlin) offered Ngakoue’s camp a “short” deal of four years and an average of $19 million per season, but when it was not accepted, the Jaguars stepped away from the bargaining table.
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What happens now might be a game of chess with the final move determining how much the front office is willing to spend and how it will affect salary cap issues for the next season and beyond.
Through 15 games this season, Ngakoue has eight sacks and 37.5 for his career. It’s not unheard of, but he would need 2.5 sacks in the final game of the season on Sunday at home against Indianapolis to get to 40. That’s 10 per season. That’s rarified air. That’s the kind of production players get paid in the upper echelon of the NFL for accomplishing.
Will it happen to Ngakoue in black and teal? He is already second on the team’s all-time sack list.
"“I can tell the growth of my game, how far God has brought me to this point, so I’m just at that point now where I’ve got to continue to play like that so I can capture the eyes of the people that need to see,” Ngakoue said via ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco. “I still don’t feel like I’m getting the recognition I deserve in this league, so just got to continue to be steadfast with it.”"
Ngakoue has always been the hardest working guy on the practice field and always on the run in pursuit of the passer during the game. While his run defense is at times weaker, he is still a commodity dozens of other teams would love to have on their side of the football.
And whether the Jaguars back the Brinks truck up (sorry, had to do it) or some other team does, the former third-round pick out of Maryland figures to hit on a huge payday.
The Jaguars do have options. They can sign him to a multi-year deal this offseason, they can use the franchise tag on him, or they can let him walk in free agency. I don’t see the last option entering into the discussion with whoever is making the financial decisions for the Jaguars after Sunday’s game.
And those who have been waving signs at home with the message to “Pay Yan” and the internet doing the same thing, letting Ngakoue out of the building this offseason without a contract is going to upset a few folks.
It needs to happen. He walks around with a chip on his shoulder, bets on himself to perform and knows his worth, as he has told the media many times. This game on Sunday is important to Ngakoue’s future – in Jacksonville or somewhere else.
"“I’ve just got to continue to do [prove himself], not just to this organization or anything like that, but I’ve just got to prove it to myself and prove it to the world,” Ngakoue added. “I was snubbed with the Pro Bowl, so obviously my name is not being as circulated through this league as much as it should be, so I’ve got to continue to keep working.”"