Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell on Impending Free Agent Yannick Ngakoue: ‘We Want Him Here’
One of the biggest decisions of Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell's career is looming in the coming weeks, with one of his best players about to command a massive contract before he hits free agency.
But as Caldwell tells it, he and the Jaguars want defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to return in some shape or fashion in 2020, regardless of how it happens.
"There is still a process that needs to be played, but I think you guys know how we feel about him," Caldwell said to the media Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "We want him here. We are going to try to get him here and keep him here one way or another, so I think I will leave it that."
Caldwell did not provide an update on where contract negotiations are at with Ngakoue, who is set to hit the open market when free agency begins on Mar. 18 following the conclusion of his four-year rookie contract. It was reported Monday that the team's 2016 third-round pick is seeking a contract that will pay him $22 million annually, which would make Ngakoue the highest-paid defensive end in the NFL.
"I think in talking to [head coach] Doug Marrone and talking to [Director of Public Relations] Tad [Dickman] and everybody, I think the best thing for us to do as an organization is when we have news for you guys on that, is to let you guys know when we have news on it," Caldwell said.
The Jaguars and Ngakoue engaged in short-lived talks on a long-term contract extension last summer, but the negotiations quickly fell apart between Ngakoue's camp and the Tom Coughlin-led front office.
In Ngakoue's four seasons in Jacksonville, he has missed only one game and has recorded 37.5 sacks (second-most in franchise history), 14 forced fumbles, and 42 tackles for loss.
If the Jaguars and Ngakoue can't agree to contract terms, then the Jaguars could instead use the franchise or transition tag on their star pass-rusher. With Caldwell and Marrone each entering a must-win season for them to retain their jobs, it is hard to fathom the Jaguars would let Ngakoue walk in free agency.
The deadline for a tag being placed on players has changed this year due to the ongoing collective bargaining agreement talks between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. The deadline is now from Feb. 27 through Mar. 12.
Ngakoue recorded eight sacks and four forced fumbles for the Jaguars in 2019. His best season came in 2017, where he recorded a career-high 12 sacks and six forced fumbles and was named to his first Pro Bowl. He has never had a season in which he has recorded less than eight sacks, and has forced four fumbles or more in three of his four seasons.
Ngakoue will be 25 and entering his fifth season in 2020.