By: Hays Carlyon
Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue just got much more difficult to trade.
The team could still deal the unhappy 25-year old. There just will be fewer suitors and likely less compensation coming back.
You can forget about any first-round treasure trove.
The Jaguars needed to trade Ngakoue to a team that could give him a lucrative extension prior to Wednesday’s deadline. Now, Ngakoue must play this season on the franchise tender — whenever he chooses or if he chooses to sign it.
That tender locks him in at a salary of $17.8 million this season. That cuts the number of teams that could realistically trade for him. If an extension could’ve been worked out, his first-year salary-cap hit would’ve been significantly lower than that.
There are seven teams that I believe could take on Ngakoue’s salary without demanding the Jaguars take back a player in the deal. Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell should only be interested in further building up his already impressive 2021 draft capital. The Jaguars own the Los Angeles Rams’ first and fourth-round choices.
The teams with at least $22.7 million in cap space, according to spotrac.com, are the following: Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Miami, Washington and Cleveland.
Caldwell shouldn’t trade Ngakoue within the division, so that rules out the Colts and Titans. Now, there are five options.
Cincinnati is too cheap to pay Ngakoue and already has receiver A.J. Green playing on the franchise tag this season. The Bengals are out.
Miami and Washington don’t appear ready to win now, so taking on Ngakoue doesn’t make much sense. He could be a rental for a year if he doesn’t agree to an extension in 2021 or his new team doesn’t want to franchise tag him again at roughly $21 million.
That would leave the Eagles and Browns. Both could be interested, but what if neither is?
Caldwell has stunned me before with his ability to maximize draft compensation when trading a player.
This might be his greatest challenge.
Look at last year’s Jadeveon Clowney trade from Houston to Seattle. The defensive end was set to play on the franchise tag. Clowney was traded on Sept. 1 for a third-round pick and two forgettable players in Jacob Martin and Barkevious Mingo. Those two players combined for 12 tackles for the Texans last season. Houston also paid $7 million of Clowney’s salary, a situation the Jaguars should try to avoid with Ngakoue.
At this point, landing a second-round pick for Ngakoue would be a huge win.
I’m prepared for Ngakoue to be traded and to be disappointed on the return the Jaguars receive.
I’m prepared for another sad ending to what looked like a tremendous budding success story in Jacksonville.
(You can email Hays at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)