By Hays Carlyon
Tom Coughlin and Dave Caldwell won’t be swayed by a holdout.
The Jaguars front office proved its point.
Now, pay defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
You’ve won the battle by proving you won’t cave to a holdout. Don’t lose the war by watching one of the key pieces of your future go play for another team or by engaging in the franchise-tag dance.
Ngakoue ended his 11-day holdout and reported to training camp on Sunday. The fourth-year veteran immediately ran with the first team in Sunday’s practice and quickly pressured quarterback Nick Foles.
Ngakoue has overperformed on his rookie contract (four years, $3.5 million) since being selected in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The former Maryland standout has recorded 30 ½ career sacks (counting playoffs) with 11 forced fumbles.
The Jaguars need to sign Ngakoue to a five-year, $102-million extension comparable to what other ends have received in the last few months. That locks him in as he hits his peak years. He’d be 28 at the end of the deal.
Yes, the Jaguars can afford it now and into the future.
This franchise has struggled to draft elite players. Ngakoue, who made the Pro Bowl in 2017 at 22, is a consistent pass rusher who makes game-changing turnovers.
This is a no brainer.
He’s never missed a game. He’s a pro’s pro.
Heck, this is what coach Doug Marrone said about Ngakoue on Sunday when asked if he passed his conditioning test.
“He passed it,” Marrone said. “He’s always been that way. The guy has had no issues. The guy’s been awesome. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. It’s a contract thing, it’s part of the business, but as a football player and part of a team, he’s great.”
Definitely sounds like they type of player you’d want to alienate and possibly exile in his mid-20s.
Ngakoue gracefully handled his press conference with reporters on Sunday after practice, but I couldn’t blame him if he’s been hurt by how Coughlin and Caldwell have treated him. The deal should’ve been done in early May, long before Ngakoue would’ve had to rattle his saber with a holdout.
“They had a chance to sign me for a long-term deal, but it didn’t get done,” Ngakoue said.
I’m excited about first-round end Josh Allen, but no one knows what the Jaguars really have in him yet. He’s relatively cheap for the next few years anyway on his rookie contract. If Allen becomes a star, Ngakoue’s guaranteed money will be paid making his contract team friendly once it’s time to pay Allen.
The defensive front could lose both end Calais Campbell and tackle Marcell Dareus after this season as they age with expensive contracts.
There’s no excuse to let Ngakoue slip away over a couple million.
Get it done, Tom.
Get it done, Dave.
Yannick Ngakoue needs to be a Jaguar for a long time.
(You can email Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)