There has already been one blockbuster trade in the NFL this week, with All-Pro safety Jamal Adams being shipped from the New York Jets to the Seattle Seahawks. The Cleveland Browns could be next in line to make a splash.
Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com proposed in her latest column that the team should take a look at trading for Jaguars Pro Bowl defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
“The Seahawks surrendered two first-round picks and more for Adams, which was undoubtedly too rich for the Browns’ blood. But they can probably get the unhappy Ngakoue for significantly less. Granted, the Jaguars would likely want multiple picks, but they might not even require a first-rounder at this point.”
Cabot thinks it’s likely the Browns inquired on both Adams and Ngakoue because of general manger Andrew Berry’s aggressive mentality when it comes to improving the roster.
Ngakoue, a former third-round pick, has notched 37.5 sacks over his first four seasons. He made the Pro Bowl in 2017, collecting 12 sacks. The former third-round pick has also forced 14 fumbles, evidence of his explosive physical abilities that can impact games.
At just 25 years old, Ngakoue is in his prime to get a big-money deal, but has hit a rough patch with the Jaguars, expressing that he’s disgruntled multiple times. The Jags franchise tagged Ngakoue this offseason for $17.8 million, but he wants a long-term deal that will make him one of the highest paid pass-rushers in the league — in the same category as Browns DE Myles Garrett and others. John Oehser, who is a senior writer for Jaguars.com, isn’t sure that Ngakoue will even play next season if he doesn’t have a new team or a massive extension.
“I’m not particularly ‘sure’ that Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue will play this season,” he wrote. “I don’t know that anyone other than Ngakoue knows what he will do — and it’s possible he’s not certain yet.”
Browns Restructured Deal for Olivier Vernon
The Browns have the cap to take on Ngakoue for this season, but it might not be worth it if they like what they have seen out of veteran Olivier Vernon. Sure, a younger, more impactful Ngakoue would be an upgrade, but it wouldn’t be worth the price of a trade if they’re not sure they can provide the big money he’s seeking for an extension.
The Browns reworked the contract of Vernon earlier this offseason, signaling that they’re comfortable keeping him as the starter opposite of Garrett. Vernon will also have a no-tag clause (franchise/transition), making certain he becomes a free agent next offseason, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
Vernon was due to make $15.25 million next season, which was not going to be guaranteed until a week before the season. With his reworked deal, Vernon will get $11 million guaranteed through a $7 million signing bonus, $3.75 million base salary, $250,000 workout bonus and $2 million in incentives, according to ESPN’s Field Yates, who first reported the deal.
Vernon had 26 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 11 quarterback hits last season. He’s missed 15 games over the past three years, but was named a Pro Bowler with the Giants in 2018 after collecting seven sacks in 11 games.
Browns Just Gave Myles Garrett Big Money
While pass-rusher is a prime position, the Browns just made Garrett the richest defender in the league with a five-year, $125 million extension.
Garrett has proven to be one of the most impactful pass-rushers in the league, notching 30.5 sacks in 37 career games. He was on pace to shatter the Browns single-season record last year with 10 sacks though 10 games, but was hit with an indefinite suspension in Week 11 after he ripped off the helmet of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and hit him over the head with it. Garrett sat out the final six games of the Browns season with the suspension, but was reinstated this offseason.
The key for the Browns going forward will be keeping a competent threat opposite of Garrett to minimize the extra attention he gets. The Browns were also in on the sweepstakes for Jadeveon Clowney, making a solid offer, but there has been little noise over the last month linking the former No. 1 overall pick to Cleveland.