Is there still a path for the New York Giants to unhappy pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue from the Jacksonville Jaguars?
It’s a question that comes often to the Big Blue View inbox, many times in the form of potential trade scenarios. Let’s examine what we know, and don’t know, about the Ngakoue situation.
The Giants could use a premier pass rusher
Kyler Fackrell and Blake Martinez might help. Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines might take steps forward. Dexter Lawrence might become more of a pass-rushing force in his second season. New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham might be able to scheme some pressure. It sure would help, though, if the Giants had a top-tier pass rusher who commanded double-team attention from opposing offenses coming off the edge.
Jadeveon Clowney is still a free agent, but it seems like weeks since anyone has connected him to the Giants. In an environment where the team can’t bring Clowney in for a physical, that’s probably to be expected.
There is a chance Chase Young of Ohio State could fall to the Giants at No. 4 in the draft, but it’s a small one. And probably getting smaller as the Washington Redskins seem to be zeroed in on Young with the No. 2 overall pick.
The Giants, with a defensive coordinator not named James Bettcher, don’t appear to have interest in bringing Markus Golden back.
That leaves them looking to add edge help on the second or third day of the draft, when they are more likely to get developmental players who could help long term but likely won’t make huge impacts in 2020.
Thus, Ngakoue remains an enticing option. He has 37.5 sacks and 85 quarterback hits in four seasons, at least 8.0 sacks each year, and at age 25 should be in the prime of his career.
If the Giants are convinced they must have immediate pass rush help, Ngakoue might be their best option. Is he, though, a realistic one?
The Jaguars have to trade Ngakoue. Don’t they?
Slapped with the franchise tag entering his fifth NFL season, Ngakoue has made it clear he doesn’t want to be in Jacksonville. Crystal clear.
Let’s agree to disagree . Why hold a man from taking care of his family. It’s obvious my time is up in my current situation. Let’s both move on @Jaguars https://t.co/XvGcSAQQkH— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) March 31, 2020
“My time is up in my current situation” is pretty straightforward.
There was also this:
”Everything comes to an end, and it’s time for me to move on to the next chapter of my career,” Ngakoue said on ESPN’s NFL Live (h/t John Reid of the Florida Times-Union). “I am forever thankful what Jacksonville has brought to me and my family, but it’s time to move on.”
This one certainly sounds like a player who thinks Jacksonville is in his rearview mirror:
”I’m not really sure what team I will be landing at, but what type of team that I would love to join is a team that has great culture,” he said. “I really want to be part of a team that has great culture and winning is a habit. I don’t want to be part of a team that losing is a norm or anything of that nature. I want to be part of something special. Also, I just want to go to a place where I can make a great impact on the community, and just reach out to younger people that look up to me.”
So, what would it take to get him?
That’s a good question.
There was a time when giving up the No. 4 pick and perhaps a late-round asset or two for Ngakoue and Jacksonville’s pick at No. 9 seemed workable. The problem, though, is that the Jaguars — per Mike Garafolo — are aiming for “a bounty of picks” that includes a first-rounder without surrendering that ninth overall pick.
The Giants aren’t giving up the fourth overall pick. I doubt GM Dave Gettleman has any interest in dropping from No. 4 all the way down to No. 20, Jacksonville’s second first-round pick, for No. 4 for Ngakoue and pick No. 20 also seems unlikely.
What, though, if the Jaguars realize finally that they aren’t in a position of strength here? That they have to move Ngakoue — because they absolutely have to — and conclude that they have to accept a package of assets that don’t include a first-round pick?
Here is Adam Schefter speaking on the Ngakoue situation during a radio appearance.
I still think the team, the Jaguars, have to move him during the draft. The week of the draft, during the draft. My guess is these are usually deals that are made often while teams are on the clock. They’re going to want back significant compensation for him. It remains to be seen how much they actually will get back. There will be people in that organization like the owner who will not want to move him, which means they’ll be firmer in their price. But if they don’t trade him, they’ve got a mess on their hands. And I believe the guy, the player, when he says that he doesn’t plan to play for them again. I believe he will continue to sit. So, that’s not good for anybody. I think the right thing for them to do, logistically, is to move on from him. And so they’re going to want a first-round pick, maybe then some for him. I don’t know whether they’ll get a first-round pick for him or not. We’ll see how it shakes out. It could be swapping draft spots. It could be swapping picks. It could be any combination of factors that get a deal done.
Now, in the end, I would guess that they do trade him. Because I think they have to. I think that’s the best thing for everybody involved. I don’t think they want that headache on their hands. I think the owner will see that eventually.
Schefter went on to mention the Giants as a potential landing spot.
One idea I have seen bandied about, including by Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic, would be for the Giants offer their second-round pick (No. 36) and a 2021 second-round pick.
The Giants have the No. 4 pick. They’re not including that in a deal for Ngakoue. But their second-round pick, No. 36, could be the starting point in a trade conversation. Last year, the Chiefs gave up a first-round pick and a future second-round pick for Clark. But that first-rounder was No. 29. The 49ers, meanwhile, sent a second-round pick to the Chiefs in exchange for Dee Ford. A pair of second-rounders seems like reasonable compensation for Ngakoue.
Last year, the Giants had a mediocre pass rush, producing a sack or quarterback hit on 20.3 percent of opponents’ pass plays — 18th in the NFL, per Sportradar. And now it looks like they’ll lose Markus Golden, who had a team-high 10 sacks and 27 quarterback hits last season, in free agency. If the Giants could sign Ngakoue, 25 at the start of next season, to a long-term deal, he’d give them a young productive pass rusher. Ngakoue’s 37.5 sacks over the last four seasons rank 12th, his 85 quarterback hits rank eighth and his 14 forced fumbles rank fourth. New York would have to clear some cap space (maybe by rescinding the franchise tag on Leonard Williams), but GM Dave Gettleman could view Ngakoue as an ascending player at a premium position.
As for the Jaguars, the trade would give them four picks in the top 50. They have the Rams’ first-round picks in 2020 and 2021 and are set up to have one of the worst teams next season. The added draft capital could position them to land Trevor Lawrence or another top quarterback in 2021, depending on what Gardner Minshew shows this season.
Of course, any team acquiring Ngakoue is also going to have to pony up a huge long-term contract — probably of the five-year, $20 million or more per year variety.
Here is what Ngakoue says a team acquiring him will be getting:
”The first thing I would say to any (of the) 31 teams that would like to take me during the draft. I bring just a different a presence in the locker room, not just on the field,” he said. “You can reach out to anybody that’s ever played with me in Jacksonville the kind of intensity and aggressiveness I bring is different. In my opinion, I’m a top-five defensive end in this league — top-three — my play hasn’t been able to be seen like that playing in Jacksonville — not having too many prime-time games. So, if I ended up landing on a team that’s prime-time, hopefully, I can show the world what I can do.”
Would be Ngakoue be worth a pair of second-round picks AND the big-money contract? No move like that is imminent for the Giants, but perhaps it is a choice they will have to consider in a couple of weeks.
Your thoughts, Giants fans?