Jaguars general manager David Caldwell is still actively trying to keep defensive end Yannick Ngakoue under contract for the 2020 season and beyond.
The narrative hasn’t changed. The Jacksonville Jaguars still want Yannick Ngakoue to be a part of this football team. As general manager David Caldwell stood at the podium earlier this week at the NFL Combine, he told the media the front office is doing whatever it can to make that happen.
There is a process, as Caldwell said, which may make things a bit tougher for the organization to make that a reality.
Caldwell was candid in how the Jaguars front office knows this is a “win now” league where the football team has fallen on hard times the past two seasons and need to make changes to turn this fractured team around. It was already announced that both Marcell Dareus and Jake Ryan would not be part of the equation moving forward. Those two moves alone save the Jaguars $25M in salary cap money, which could be spent elsewhere.
Possibly in the negotiations with their soon-to-be free agent pass rusher.
Ngakoue has stated he wants somewhere in the neighborhood of $22M per season and a long-term deal.
“If the sides can’t agree to a long-term contract, the Jaguars have the option of using the franchise tag on Ngakoue – a move that restricts player movement in free agency with the player playing on a one-year contract with a salary based on the average of the highest-paid players in the NFL at his position,” John Oehser of Jaguars.com explained via Jaguars.com.
Ngakoue wasn’t the only topic of conversation for Caldwell as he touched on veteran salaries, the salary cap and free agency which begins in less than a month. This is his eighth season in Jacksonville, and as the team inches closer to making more roster moves, there are plenty of chess pieces Caldwell must deal with.
But Ngakoue remains the top priority of the team.
“There’s still a process that needs to be played [out],” Caldwell said. “I think you guys know how we feel about him. We want him here. We’re going to try to get him here and keep him here one way or another.”
Teams can use the franchise and transition tags for players starting Feb. 27.
The Jaguars must also determine if they can keep veterans Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye at their current salaries for 2020 and move forward to add players the roster in free agency. At $15M this season for Campbell, a Pro Bowl player in 2019, and Bouye, who is set to make $13M in base salary, these are really tough decisions to make.
“We love Calais,” Caldwell said. “He’s a tremendous player, a tremendous leader. He’s recognized amongst the league as one of the leaders not only on our team but of the NFL. We feel like has a lot of football ahead of him. … We’re in the business of having good football players, so we’d like to have Calais.”
If the Jaguars were to release Bouye, should a contract renegotiation not happen, Jacksonville would save $11.5M this coming year.
“Those are things we’re discussing with Coach Wash (defensive coordinator Todd Wash),” Caldwell said.
“A.J. had a nice year last year. We’ll explore all options with him. He still has a lot of football left in him – and again, another player we really like here as a person and as a guy.”
Losing all three players would be a huge blow to the Jaguars defense that underperformed in 2019. The team is in need of help at defensive tackle and linebacker. There are players out there in free agency and the Draft that can help this team move forward, hopefully getting back to its 2017 form in the process.