Yannick Ngakoue and the Jacksonville Jaguars are locked in what one NFL insider called a “nasty battle.” Ngakoue, the talented soon-to-be-25-year-old pass rusher wants to leave and reap free agent riches. The Jaguars want him to stay, and have said they will slap the franchise tag on him to prevent him from reaching the open market.
Where do the New York Giants fit in all of this? Well, if Ngakoue had made it to the open market the Giants, with ample cap space and an obvious need for a young No. 1 pass rusher, seemed like an obvious suitor.
Now? The Giants could still get Ngakoue, but it would require a tag-and-trade. What might that look like?
For reference, here are a couple of deals. The Kansas City Chiefs got a second-round pick in exchange for Dee Ford. The Chiefs got Frank Clark and a third-round pick from the Seattle Seahwks for first- and third-round picks in 2019 and a 2020 second-round pick.
My initial thought? Could the Giants get Ngakoue and the Jaguars’ pick at No. 9 if they surrendered their fourth overall pick? Sounds really good from a Giants’ perspective, doesn’t it? They get a premier pass rusher and still have a top 10 pick. Well, I have asked around and so far I haven’t been able to find anyone who actually thinks Jacksonville would give up that No. 9 overall pick in that deal.
The Jaguars also have the 20th pick in Round 1. Would the Giants give up the No. 4 pick for Ngakoue and drop all the way from No. 4 to No. 20? Considering GM Dave Gettleman’s recent warning about the dangers of dropping too far back, my inclination is to believe that even getting Ngakoue in the deal would make Gettleman reluctant to drop down 16 spots.
There is also the small matter of paying Ngakoue. The franchise tag will likely pay him more than $19 million in 2020. To acquire him via trade, the Giants will likely have to pony up a long-term deal in excess of $20 million annually.
Gettleman said at the Combine that $20 million isn’t what it used to be.
“So everybody fell off their chair when the first $20 million APY (average per year) position players started. Let me tell you something, it’s not going to be just pass rushers,” Gettleman said. “Now it’s going to be other positions. They’re going to jump up because there is so much money.”
That certainly doesn’t sound like a GM who would blanche at paying Ngakoue $20 million or more. It’s the other pieces of the puzzle that make Ngakoue to the Giants seem so unlikely.
If not Ngakoue, then who?
Among premier pass rushers who could be free agents — Ngakoue, Jadaveon Clowney, Shaq Barrett, Bud Dupree, Matthew Judon, a couple others — Clowney is the only who seems likely to reach the market.
To no one’s surprise, Clowney’s price tag is expected to be at least five years and more than $100 million. Do you really want to pay that for a guy who had 3.0 sacks in 2019, has never posted double-digit sacks in six seasons and has played 16 games just once?
That probably leaves the Giants looking at Kyle Van Noy, Dante Fowler Jr., potentially bringing back Markus Golden and finding pass rush help any way they can in the draft.