JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars were not close to trading disgruntled defensive end Yannick Ngakoue on Thursday, and the team is planning on him being on the roster in 2020.
General manager Dave Caldwell refuted reports from earlier Thursday that the Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders were close to a deal involving Ngakoue and said he hasn’t gotten a single offer from any team either.
“I think his options are very limited at this point in time,” Caldwell said. “We’ll welcome him back with open arms when he’s ready to come back, and we look forward to it.”
The Jaguars placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Ngakoue, and it carries a $17.8 million salary in 2020. Ngakoue, however, has not signed the tender and has been adamant that he no longer wants to play for the franchise because he feels the Jaguars offered him a contract far below what he believes he’s worth.
Ngakoue has been vocal about his dissatisfaction on social media. Earlier this week he went on a Twitter tirade against Tony Khan, the son of owner Shad Khan and the team’s senior vice president of football administration and technology, calling him spoiled and using a clown emoji.
The Jaguars reportedly offered Ngakoue a deal that would pay him up to $19 million annually last July, but Ngakoue wanted more than $20 annually and turned it down. He played last season — after an 11-day training camp holdout — for $2.025 million and announced on Twitter that he told the Jaguars he would not sign a long-term deal and wanted a trade.
That seems more and more unlikely, especially because the Jaguars are asking for a first-round pick as part of any trade package, and Ngakoue might be faced with the choice of swallowing his pride and playing this season under the franchise tag or sitting out and leaving nearly $18 million on the table.
“He is a tremendous player, tremendous person,” Caldwell said. “He’s always been first class in everything he’s done here, in the locker room and through his time here, the first four years of his contract. Obviously he feels like things have not gone the way he wanted.
“In some aspects he may have a point, but we put our best foot forward not once but twice, and I hope he sees the light that Jacksonville is a good spot and it could at the end of the day be his only option.”
Ngakoue, whom the Jaguars drafted in the third round in 2016, had eight sacks and four forced fumbles in 15 games last season and has 38.5 sacks in his career, which places him second on the franchise’s all-time list. He also has forced 14 fumbles, which is more than all but three players from 2016-19: Chandler Jones (17), Khalil Mack (17) and T.J. Watt (15).
In addition, Ngakoue has been responsible for five of the 12 defensive touchdowns the Jaguars have scored since 2016: a pick-six, a fumble return and three forced fumbles on sacks that other players recovered for TDs, plus another forced fumble that resulted in a touchdown in the playoffs.