Time is ticking at a faster rate for the Jacksonville Jaguars to get a deal done with defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
The NFL has decided to push back the dates that NFL teams can place the franchise or transition tag on a player according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. While it is just a difference of two days, it could affect how the Jacksonville Jaguars handle contract negotiations involving defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
I wrote that it could have an effect, but realistically I don’t think it makes that much of a difference.
No one knows what has been discussed inside the confines of TIAA Bank Field. The front office is hunkered down, working on impending free agency and preparation for the NFL draft. Getting information now it’s probably as difficult as breaking into Fort Knox. Ngakoue is still considered the top priority of this franchise. How negotiations go have a domino effect on what happens with the team’s roster and specifically the defense for 2020.
While there has been plenty of discussion about teams that may be interested in acquiring his services, either by signing him to a long-term deal in free agency or seeking a trade should the Jaguars place the franchise tag on him, there isn’t as much being reported about him remaining with the team other than being franchised. That’s not by design, rather that’s reality.
Ngakoue has been quite active on social media lately, sending out cryptic messages on the daily. Whether those are comments pointed towards the Jaguars front office or just him expounding on his potential next career move isn’t known. What is clear is that should the Jaguars allow their 24-year-old sack artist walk, it would be a big blow to this defense that is already trying to recover from a disastrous 2019 campaign.
The Jaguars as a team, are in desperate need of cornerstone players to build around. Gardner Minshew, Leonard Fournette, DJ Chark, Jawaan Taylor, Myles Jack, Josh Allen, and Ronnie Harrison are all nice pieces to a fractured puzzle. The ability to find players to complement those pieces will be the reason Jacksonville succeeds or fails this coming season. Not everything that fell apart in 2019 falls at the feet of the coaching staff or the front office. The players on this roster must bear some of the burden as well.
How general manager David Caldwell, director of player personnel Trent Baalke and head coach Doug Marrone handle free agency, bring in players who can make an immediate impact, is partially predicated on whether Ngakoue wants to sign on the dotted line., And again we aren’t sure that he wants to remain in Jacksonville. Have his messages through social media been just that – a message that his time in North Florida is over? We will know the answer to that potentially by the end of this week.
Last year, according to Pelissero and other NFL insiders, the Jaguars offered Ngakoue a short-term deal with an annual salary of $19 million per season. It was not accepted by his agent and negotiations broke off prior to the start of training camp.
The NFL season doesn’t officially begin until March 18 when free agency becomes a real thing. Teams like the Buffalo Bills, the New York Giants, the New Orleans Saints, and a host of others who would benefit from his services will remain in a holding pattern. The Jaguars should be at the top of that list, but that may not be the case in terms of getting a deal done.
Regardless of whether Caldwell believes signing Ngakoue is the team’s top priority, it may not work out that way. That’s the reality of professional football. The intention is great, but the means to make that happen may not come to fruition.
If pushing back Jacksonville‘s ability to franchise Ngakoue did anything., it gave us all who follow the team more time to speculate. It also means that everything has a chance to simmer just a bit more. Ngakoue figures to use social media, even more, to get his message out, whatever that is. All the while the front office inside the stadium remains silent.
At some point, this will boil over, with a decision whether he stays or whether he goes. The next week should grow a little more exciting here in Jacksonville. Fans can only hope the answer to the biggest question surrounding this football team is the one they want to hear.
So do I. I really do.