Disgruntled Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue made another public plea to be traded, this one on his 25th birthday.
Ngakoue said in a Twitter post Tuesday “why hold a man from taking care of his family. It’s obvious my time is up in my current situation. Let’s both move on.”
The appeal came four weeks after Ngakoue first publicly expressed his desire to play elsewhere, saying “the Jaguars are aware I no longer have interest in signing a long-term contract in Jacksonville. … I’m thankful for the journey and look forward to continuing my career elsewhere.”
The Jaguars placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Ngakoue two weeks later, guaranteeing him nearly $18 million in 2020.
After rumors swirled that Philadelphia was interested in trading for Ngakoue during free agency, the disruptive pass-rusher started posting Instagram pics of former Eagles star and Hall of Famer Reggie White.
“When the business starts getting involved, it’s tough,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said Tuesday during a Zoom call with reporters. “As a coach, you always want your players to be happy and you want the best for your players. From that standpoint, I understand the challenges that are going on for Yan.
“When you look the organization … and the rules of the league and the CBA, the players have rights and the team have rights. What you do as a coach is you hope that all of this stuff can be resolved in a positive way for everyone.”
By tagging Ngakoue, Jacksonville essentially offered him a one-year tender that equates to the top five defensive end salaries over the past five years. Ngakoue can negotiate with other teams. Jacksonville has the right to match any offer or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation if he signs elsewhere.
Ngakoue also could refuse to sign the tender and try to force a trade.
No one would be surprised to see him go since Jacksonville already shipped out three potential starters this month: cornerback A.J. Bouye (Denver), defensive end Calais Campbell (Baltimore) and quarterback Nick Foles (Chicago).
Campbell and Foles were on the wrong side of 30, though, with their best football probably behind them. Ngakoue might just be getting started.
A third-round draft pick from Maryland in 2016, Ngakoue has 37 1/2 sacks and 14 forced fumbles in 63 games. Of the 12 defensive touchdowns the Jaguars have scored since his rookie season, Ngakoue is directly responsible for five: a pick-6, a fumble return and three forced fumbles that other players recovered for touchdowns.
The speedy strip-sack specialist made the Pro Bowl in 2017 and was an alternate the past two seasons. He clearly outplayed his $3.84 million rookie contract. He made $2.025 million in 2019 — far less than other top playmakers at his position.
Ngakoue had been seeking around $22 million a year to remain in Jacksonville, but the Jaguars don't seem to consider him a complete or elite defensive end worthy of that much annually. They offered around $18 million annually last year — more than the current franchise tag.
But Jacksonville also has Ngakoue's potential replacement, Josh Allen from Kentucky, on the roster. The seventh overall pick in the 2019 draft had 44 tackles, 10 1/2 sacks and two forced fumbles as a rookie and made the Pro Bowl as an alternate.
“Again, I understand both sides to it,” Marrone said. “It’s a part that I’ve always struggled with — the business end of it. It’s not only with players; it happens on your staff. We’ve had assistant coaches, and they’ve been offered good deals, better than the ones that maybe presently they’ve had. At the end of the day, we’ve denied permission and they had to stay.
"It’s just tough. It really is, especially with a player that’s done everything you ask. I’m hoping that somewhere along the line we can get this situation resolved.”