When Yannick Ngakoue posted a photo of Reggie White, along with a bird emoji, it was all but a done deal. The pass-rusher was heading to Philadelphia.
Ngakoue, a stud edge rusher who has 37.5 sacks, 85 quarterback hits and 14 forced fumbles since 2016, would be quite the heist (there have been trade rumors brewing for weeks) for the Eagles and finally give them the perfect complement to Brandon Graham. Perhaps the player the franchise envisioned Derek Barnett would turn into when they drafted him.
Ngakoue’s troll job on social media, coupled with CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora teasing that the Eagles have “a lot of interest” in the defensive end, sounded too good to be true. And it probably is. (It should be noted that Ngakoue himself commented on La Canfora’s message, though).
According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, there is “nothing going on” for a potential trade sending Ngakoue to Philly. In fact, it has been quiet all around the Jaguars pass-rusher, including no imminent deals with his other suitors like the New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks or Green Bay Packers.
The NFL Network report clarified that Ngakoue has been playfully stoking the trade flames for a few weeks after posting a picture of Giants legend Lawrence Taylor. He has never backed down from his desire to be traded, preferably to a contending team, yet nothing appears serious enough to note. Remember, the Jaguars placed the franchise tag on Ngakoue on March 13.
How Good is Ngakoue? Best Edge Rusher Out There?
Yannick Ngakoue had already expressed his feelings about remaining in Jacksonville. He wants no part of a long-term deal there and bid the franchise farewell in a previous Twitter message.
The 24-year-old (he’ll be 25 on March 30) remains one of the best edge rushers on the market and has never registered less than eight sacks in a season. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the third-best edge rusher in free agency, right behind Shaquil Barrett and Jadeveon Clowney (Barrett was tagged by Tampa, Clowney remains a free agent).
Ngakoue has taken a hit in his overall rating over the past two seasons, down from 81.0 in a breakout 2017 campaign to 76.8 in 2018 and 77.5 in 2019. He also was docked points for his poor play in run support, something he struggled with going back to his college days at Maryland.
This is what Pro Football Focus wrote about him:
Ngakoue has followed his collegiate profile as a good pass-rusher and below-average run defender (career-high grade of 60.0 in 2018). At just 25 years old, he looks like a strong presence off the edge for the foreseeable future, but his questionable run defense coupled with the fact that more valuable positions are hitting the open market has us lower on him than most.
He has a projected salary of $19.316 million for 2020 while under the franchise tag. He’d likely looking for a big payday in a trade, one on par with what the Chiefs doled out for Frank Clark (five years, $105.5 million) or with what the 49ers gave Dee Ford (five years, $87.5 million). Steep.
The Expected Compensation Sounds Too High
Since the Jaguars don’t want to trade Yannick Ngakoue, the price to lure him away is going to be incredibly high. This is the same franchise that held out for two first-round picks to rid themselves of disgruntled cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Ngakoue’s asking price won’t be that high, but it won’t be cheap.
According to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan (ironically, a former Eagles beat writer), the Jaguars aren’t going to part with Ngakoue for less than at least one first-round pick. And teams not in the upper half of the first round may need to get “creative” to get a deal done. The Eagles fall right in that gray area as they hold pick No. 21.
Plus, the Eagles would have to lock him up to a long-term deal once they executed the trade. It would be a situation very similar to what they just did with Darius Slay. It’s an intriguing debate and the decision to grab Ngakoue could cost Philly a shot at one of the top receivers in the draft. Stay tuned.
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