Whenever the NFL Draft approaches, trade rumors blare louder and louder. Right now, there is perhaps no trade rumor as loud as the Jacksonville Jaguars reportedly willing to listen to offers for their stud defensive end, Yannick Ngakoue.
But any team that wants to trade for Ngakoue is going to pay a heavy price. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan reports the Jags are seeking at least a first round pick for their stud edge rusher.
The other top pass-rushing option is Yannick Ngakoue, who desperately wants out of Jacksonville. The Jaguars are beginning discussions for Ngakoue at a first-round pick and more, according to sources.
And NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo indicates at least some preliminary talks have begun.
The #Jaguars have heard from multiple interested teams about a possible trade for DE Yannick Ngakoue, who turns 25 today. The Jags value him and won’t give him away for little return but it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out as we draw closer to the draft.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 31, 2020
Ngakoue has made no secret of the fact that he wants out of Jacksonville after a contract dispute and holdout last season.
And he’s also made it abundantly clear on his Instagram that one of the teams he would like to join is your Philadelphia Eagles, as he’s posted pictures of Reggie White and Brian Dawkins on his account over the last couple weeks (although how much of that is trolling, we don’t really know).
There is no doubt Yannick is a great player and would be a tremendous addition to the Eagles, but the price is sky high. Should Howie Roseman pull the trigger or should he stand pat? Here are the pros and cons of trading for Yannick Ngakoue, given what seems to be the current market rate for his services.
Ngakoue is just 25 years old. One would think he has at least another five or six years of elite play in front of him, and that’s on the low end, barring injury. Young star edge rushers like this don’t come around very often.
He’s a stud. I mean, just look at this guy.
Was just doing some research on Yannick Ngakoue and came across this: Of the 12 defensive touchdowns the Jaguars have scored since 2016, Ngakoue is directly responsible for five: a pick six, a fumble return, and three forced fumbles on sacks that other players recovered for TDs.— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) March 6, 2020
He’s never had a season in which he’s totaled less than eight sacks, and has forced at least four fumbles in three out of his four seasons as a pro. He’s had 13 tackles for loss each of the last two seasons, so he’s strong in the run game, too.
He would give the Eagles the best defensive line in the NFL. Combining Ngakoue with Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett on the edges, as well as Fletcher Cox, a healthy Malik Jackson and new addition Javon Hargrave in the middle, the Birds would have their best pass rush since the Buddy Ryan days of Reggie, Clyde Simmons, Jerome Brown and Mike Pitts.
It would cover up deficiencies elsewhere in the defense. If the Eagles are overwhelming offensive lines and opposing quarterbacks with their pass rush, it would make improving at safety and linebacker less important, allowing the Birds to potentially focus on needs on the offensive side of the ball.
The cost in terms of draft picks. Folks, we’re talking about starting the discussions with the team’s first round pick this year, a pick many think should go to a game-changing wide receiver. But it would also cost more than just a first round pick. The Jags are looking for a haul, and it could require a a second rounder in 2021, a third rounder this year, or some combination of other picks. For a team that has talked about infusing the roster with numerous young, cheap players, trading away all those picks, after already dealing away a 3rd and a 5th for Darius Slay, would run counter to that.
The cost of a new contract. The whole reason Yannick is pushing Jacksonville to trade him is because he wants to earn a contract that pays him what he’s worth. In other words, he’s seeking something in the $22 million a year range. According to NBC Sports’ Reuben Frank, the Eagles have about $27.8 million in cap space for this year.
The Eagles have 66 players under contract, but only their 51 highest cap figures count against their cap. From that, approximately $9 million will be set aside to cover rookie wages. Roseman likes to keep at least $15 million in cap space going into the season, so they are right where he likes to be.
Howie Roseman can manipulate the cap as well as anyone, and certainly a new deal for Ngakoue could be structured to make it work under the 2020 cap. But even if they don’t sign him to a new deal right away, he was placed under the franchise tag by the Jags, which means he’ll earn $19 million this season, regardless. That’s a ton of money to throw at one player, especially when so much has already been invested along the defensive line.
It lessens the chance of drafting impact receiver. Draft experts have been saying for months that this year’s draft has the most talented collection of wide receivers we’ve seen in years. Guys that will probably go in the second round this year likely would have been first round picks in previous seasons.
The Eagles decided not to sign a free agent wide receiver this off-season, and they did not trade for DeAndre Hopkins. They are relying on the draft to bring in some talent and speed at that position, and that first round pick sure seems like the best way to add an impact starter. Perhaps they would even trade up to give themselves a chance to select Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs.
If they deal away their first rounder, that means their first opportunity to draft a wide receiver will come in the second round. And given Roseman’s history of drafting wide receivers over the last few years, I’d sure feel better about using that first round pick on a wideout than depending on my second rounder, especially because all these rookies will be behind the eight-ball because of the lack of OTAs and off-season programs due to the coronavirus.
Even though there are four items in the “pros” column and three in the “cons,” the “cons” are more weighty than the “pros.” The price is simply too high, in terms of draft picks and financial compensation, for the Eagles to make a trade for Ngakoue. The best move is to keep their picks, select as many quality football players as possible and leave themselves the cap room they may need to make other additions or subtractions that would require a cap hit.
It sure would look great to see Ngakoue in an Eagles uniform. Dreaming of him on that defensive line is salivating, and spending another year hoping Derek Barnett provides first round production isn’t exactly something I’m looking forward to. But unless Ngakoue’s price tag comes down, it would be wiser for Roseman to stay away.
Should the Eagles trade a first-round pick for Yannick Ngakoue?
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