Lions Should Finish Offseason With Bold Trade for Top Pass Rusher

Yannick Ngakoue

Getty Yannick Ngakoue celebrates a play with the Jaguars defense.

The Yannick Ngakoue situation isn’t getting any better, and the Detroit Lions should be closely monitoring the goings on in Jacksonville at this point in time.

Most of this offseason, Ngakoue hasn’t been happy with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The sides have been at a stalemate in recent months in terms of contract negotiations and decisions about the future, and it seems logical to think that Ngakoue wants to move on after he said as much in a tweet a few months back. The Jaguars were also reportedly taking calls from multiple teams a few months ago.

Recently, another update was provided by ESPN reporter Adam Schefter that said the Jaguars have still taken calls on Ngakoue, but aren’t committed to trading a player who wants to move on from the team.

One of those calls, hopefully, has been from the Lions.

Detroit’s defense has already been turned upside down with some big moves this offseason, but the Lions could stand to add a player like Ngakoue to their pass rush. The Lions haven’t made a big splash at pass rush this offseason, and would not have to sign another player off the scrap heap in order to try and make ends meet if they simply made one more big investment up front. They’ve tried the veteran patch solution the past few years to no avail.

Detroit should look to trade a future third round pick and a mid-round selection in order to try and get the pass rusher into the mix. It could be a steep price to pay, but the team needs a solid pass rush as much as anything else to have success in 2020. Making the Jaguars a deal they can’t refuse could be the only way to gain some movement on this front.

Ngakoue, meanwhile, could quickly get a long term deal done with the Lions, who do have plenty of cap space to work with. It would be a win-win for both team and player at this point in time, and offer Ngakoue a soft landing while also preventing the Jaguars from having to trade within the AFC.

Detroit needs a big offseason in order to right the ship for 2020 and get their team moving in the right direction. So far, they’ve made plenty of solid moves, but none have been as bold as this would be. That’s why it’s the perfect thing for the team to go for just ahead of the season.

Yannick Ngakoue Stats

The Lions would love to add a talent like Ngakoue to their defensive front. Just 25 years old out of Maryland, Ngakoue is already one of the next best pass rushers in the league. He’s put up 122 tackles and 37.5 sacks plus 2 interceptions during his time in the league. A 2017 Pro Bowl player, Ngakoue has also forced an impressive 14 fumbles in his career, showcasing his big play player abilities.

All of that paints the picture of a player who could give the Lions just what they need. Playing opposite Trey Flowers and along with Danny Shelton, the Lions would have the makings of one of the better defensive lines in the league just a few years after being in a desperate position.

Lions Defense Said to Have Not Improved

Many fans and pundits would think the Lions defense has improved already, but it might not be if Bleacher Report is to be believed. Recently, the site power ranked every team’s defense following the biggest moves of the offseason, and the Lions didn’t place highly whatsoever. Detroit’s defense was bad last season, but according to Martin Fenn, the improvements they have made have been minimal.

The Lions placed 29th on the list, with only 3 defenses in the league worse at this point.

Here’s a look at what Fenn wrote about why:

“The Lions made the best decision for their defense by staying at the No. 3 spot in the draft and selecting Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah, who was dominant during his tenure with the Buckeyes. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed first downs on just 20 percent of all targets at the outside corner since 2018. He also dominated in press coverage, making him the perfect replacement for Darius Slay.

Detroit also signed former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant earlier in the offseason while acquiring ball-hawking safety Duron Harmon from the New England Patriots.

The problem is, the secondary figures to see a ton of action due to a relatively lackluster pass rush. The Lions cut edge-rusher Devon Kennard and defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison, but the only move they made to upgrade the line was signing former Pats defensive tackle Danny Shelton.

Shelton was a run-stuffing machine for New England last year, and perhaps the Lions are counting on the additions of linebackers Jamie Collins and Reggie Ragland to help against the run as well. Still, they don’t have much of a pass rush outside of Trey Flowers, which does not bode well for the overhauled secondary. Collins did have seven sacks last season, but he will be 31 in October, and the Lions might need him to be more of a cover backer.

Third-round draft pick Julian Okwara might be able to help set the edge, but the Lions ranked 29th in passing DVOA last year, and the relative shortage of pass-rushing threats will test Detroit’s secondary once again.”

Detroit has added plenty to the mix in both free agency and the draft but clearly not enough to move the needle as Fenn is concerned in terms of a turnaround.

Striking a timely trade for Ngakoue as his situation deteriorates further would easily put the team over the top.

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