Emerging as the latest disgruntled defensive star in Jacksonville, Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue announced his intentions to skip the team’s upcoming mandatory minicamp as he pursues a contract extension.
Through a written statement to ESPN, Ngakoue stated, “I will not be attending minicamp as my contract has not been resolved. I remain committed to Jacksonville, the fans and my teammates. My hope is to be with Jacksonville for years to come.”
It’s clear despite his impending holdout that Ngakoue would like to continue his career with the Jaguars, but one of the league’s best young pass rushers won’t be cheap to re-sign, creating an opportunity for another team to swoop in and attempt to acquire him.
Could general manager John Schneider and the Seahawks, who have been known to roll the dice for talented players via trade, emerge as a potential suitor?
After trading Frank Clark to Kansas City for multiple draft picks, including an additional 2019 first-round selection, Seattle could certainly use another stud pass rusher and Ngakoue might be the best in the business under 25 years of age.
Since joining the Jaguars as a third-round pick out of Maryland in 2016, the 24-year old Ngakoue has been dominant off the edge, registering 29.5 sacks and 70 quarterback hits during three NFL seasons. According to Pro Football Focus, no defender has produced more combined sacks or quarterback hits during that span.
Ngakoue has also been a turnover-creating machine, forcing 10 fumbles, intercepting a pass, and returning a fumble for a touchdown in 47 career games. Seeing the speedy 246-pound defender pin his ears back and pursue quarterbacks playing the LEO defensive end spot for the Seahawks would be a sight to behold.
Despite his impressive production, however, it seems improbable, if not impossible, Seattle will make a play for Ngakoue due to the steep cost it would take to acquire him and sign him to a long-term extension.
Yes, the Seahawks currently have an estimated $76 million in cap space available in 2020, creating plenty of wiggle room to give Ngakoue the contract he desires in the price range of $20 million per year.
But if the Seahawks were willing or able to pay a premier pass rusher at market price, Clark wouldn’t be with the Chiefs right now. After posting a career-high 13.0 sacks in 2018, he surely would’ve been given a new contract by the team that drafted him if he fit into the budget.
In fact, statistically, Clark has been arguably the better player overall in comparison, recording more tackles and sacks over the past three seasons. If the Seahawks didn’t think they had the financial means to keep him, why would they turn around and give the same money to Ngakoue?
Since Seattle still has to pay All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who are both scheduled to hit free agency in March, cap space will dry up quickly. Add in the fact Jacksonville would be seeking a first-round pick in return as compensation at minimum and it’s far too expensive of a deal for Seattle to make.
In the end, such hypotheticals may be irrelevant anyway, as Jacksonville will likely do everything it can to re-sign Ngakoue. But even if the Jaguars decide to entertain offers, recent actions suggest the Seahawks aren’t comfortable at all with the idea of splurging on a star pass rusher, slamming the door on any potential deal.