One of the most pressing situations for the entire Jacksonville Jaguars 2019 season has been the future of fourth-year defensive end Yannick Ngaoue, who is in the final year of his rookie contract.
Ngakoue held out of the early portions of Jacksonville's training camp earlier this year as he tried to command a long-term deal that he thinks matches his production, but the two sides failed to come to any agreement and Ngakoue entered the season with the same contract he has always had with the team.
Now, Ngakoue is only under contract for five more games as a Jaguar and, as of right now, there does not appear to be a deal in place. Ngakoue himself has said this season that those discussions were for before the season, but the Jaguars' top executive had yet to give his take on the matter until Wednesday.
Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin spoke publicly for the first time this season during a Wednesday press conference at TIAA Bank Field, and it was there that Coughlin was asked about Ngakoue's contract status.
JaguarMaven asked Coughlin during the press conference if the team has interest in keeping Ngakoue in its long-term plans, and Coughlin quickly gave a reply that didn't confirm anything one way or another.
“We have five games to play and everyone has a lot to prove," Coughlin said.
Coughlin was again asked later in the conference about Ngakoue and a potential long-term deal, but again gave a non-answer.
“That is not for discussion today, and it wouldn't be in this setting anyways," Coughlin said.
Since the Jaguars selected Ngakoue in the third round of the 2016 NFL draft, he has been a consistently disruptive edge rusher and has already etched his name into the team's history books. Ngakoue has 35.5 career sacks, second-most in Jaguars' history, and has 13 forced fumbles, with 12 of those being strip-sacks.
By all accounts, Ngakoue has far and away done more than enough to earn a new deal. Head coach Doug Marrone and defensive coordinator have each raved about Ngakoue at various points this season.
Whether it is talking about Ngakoue's on-field performance, in which he has six sacks and three forced fumbles this season, or the type of leader he is off of the field and in the locker room and meetings, the Jaguars' coaching staff has heaped praise on their veteran defensive end.
Despite that, it doesn't appear as of now that Ngakoue will be getting a new deal from the team soon, or until at least after the season ends. Ngakoue is eligible to be franchise tagged, but the chance to ink him to a long-term deal is fading each week.
On Wednesday, Coughlin was ultimately given two opportunities to publicly endorse Ngakoue, but said nothing to suggest the pass rusher is or is not in the team's long-term plans.