The Jacksonville Jaguars and Yannick Ngakoue: The two sides of the saga

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 23: Yannick Ngakoue #91 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 23: Yannick Ngakoue #91 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue have written a story that still needs an ending to its continuing saga.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will not offer defensive end Yannick Ngakoue a trade. The defensive end will not sign or play under the franchise tag for the organization. This is a situation in which both sides have dug their feet in.

Neither side plans to give an inch. There are many opinions about who is right and who is wrong. Let’s take a look at both sides and see where they stand.

The Jacksonville Jaguars side of the story

The Jaguars’ side is very simple. Ngakoue is a top-notch player and they have him under contract via the franchise tag.  The team would like to see him in a Jaguars uniform rushing the passer in 2020.  As it stands now he will play under the franchise tag designation.

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The situation got a little worse when Ngakoue and team co-owner Tony Khan got into a Twitter war.

"Per John Shipley of, “The Jaguars on the other hand have played the situation mostly quietly, digging in their heels and not giving in to the disgruntled Ngakoue’s demands, much like they did with cornerback Jalen Ramsey last fall before eventually trading him to the Los Angeles Rams for a haul of high-profile draft picks.”"

We all know how that turned out. According to Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell, the team just didn’t get offered the compensation that would make them want to make a deal.  The higher-ups continue to say that he is a great player and a good team-mate and they would welcome him back.

Yannick Ngakoue’s side of the story

Ngajoue’s side of the story is simple as well. He just doesn’t want to play for the Jaguars. He has been a very talented player for the franchise since the team drafted him in the third round in 2016. He wants to be compensated and is on record stating he would like a long term contract of about $22M a year.

He also said this week he would agree to play for the franchise tag number of $17.8M but for another team.

Ngakoue pushed very hard for a deal in 2019 but ended up playing under his rookie contract. This, no doubt, caused some hard feelings on his side and perhaps they are justified. He has said repeatedly that he no longer wants to play in Jacksonville under the franchise tag or a long term contract. He wants out, period.

Where do we go from here?

Management is hoping that Ngakoue will give in and play under the franchise tag in 2020.  It’s not easy to give that up, especially since he made just over $2M last season. Now that the franchise tag is in effect it is unlikely that the Jacksonville Jaguars will get the compensation they are hoping to get.

If Ngakoue continues to hold out and refuses to play then the Jaguars are left holding the bag.  The team has the contract and he must play for them or not play at all.  However, they can’t force him to play if he doesn’t want to.

How did it get to this point?  It seems to me that both parties are to blame. The Jaguars learned nothing from the Jalen Ramsey fiasco. In my opinion, they should have offered Ngakoue a long-term deal in 2019. What was offered was considered a short-term deal regardless of the money he was offered over the length of the deal (which was reported to be somewhere around $19M per season).

Because Ngakoue did not accept the first offer with the Jaguars front office, he was left to negotiate with a salary offer that was less this offseason per the market value for his position. Ngakoue decided that $17M wasn’t what he wanted and resented the franchise tag.

My question to the front office is this ”Why on earth are you insisting that a disgruntled, angry player report and play for your team?” There were enough locker room problems the last several years and the Jaguars need to field a team that wants to play together. The front office and the coaching staff has worked this offseason to eliminate the drama and in-fighting that has been part of the organization for the past two seasons.

My question to Ngakoue is this, ”Why are you willing to give up $17.8M when you could park your ego and play football in Jacksonville for one more year?”

Who will blink?  I don’t see a compromise here other than if Ngakoue plays for this season then he is free to chart his own course.  Stay tuned.