The Vikings have made a surprising splash move just two weeks before the upcoming season gets underway, trading a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. The deal was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter on Sunday morning.
According to multiple reports, the 2022 conditional pick becomes a fourth-rounder if Ngakoue is a first-ballot Pro Bowl selection this season, and it becomes a third-rounder if he accomplishes that and the Vikings win the Super Bowl.
The Jaguars placed the franchise tag on Ngakoue earlier this offseason and offered him a tender, which he hadn't signed. He also had yet to report to training camp in Jacksonville after a long saga in which the relationship between team and player fell apart.
The Vikings have reportedly finalized a restructured one-year contract for Ngakoue that will pay him several million dollars less than the $17.8 million franchise tag would have. They came into this trade with roughly $12.5-13 million dollars in cap space, and it seems like his one-year deal is in that price range. The deadline for the team to work out a new long-term deal for Ngakoue passed on July 15th, but they can – and presumably will – offer him a new contract next offseason.
So, Ngakoue is taking a fairly significant one-year pay-cut to get out of Jacksonville. In Minnesota, he'll get to play for veteran defensive line coach Andre Patterson and defense-first head coach Mike Zimmer. Ngakoue and Danielle Hunter are now one of the league's most talented defensive end duos, and both players are only 25 years old.
Ngakoue was drafted by the Jaguars in the third round in 2016 after a productive career at the University of Maryland. He started 15 games as a rookie and posted eight sacks, four forced fumbles, and an interception. Ngakoue broke out in 2017 with 12 sacks, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and an outstanding 87.3 PFF grade. He was named a Pro-Bowler that year at age 22.
In 2018, Ngakoue's sacks fell back to 9.5 but he increased his QB hits from 23 to 33, recording 51 pressures. He had eight sacks and pick-six last year while dealing with an early-season hamstring injury that caused him to miss a game and slowed him in others.
Across his four-year career, Ngakoue has 37.5 sacks, 85 QB hits, 14 forced fumbles, three fumbles recoveries, nine pass breakups, and two interceptions. He is one of the better young pass-rushers in the NFL and is a major addition for the Vikings.
Ngakoue will now head to Minnesota to take a physical and go through COVID-19 testing protocols before officially signing with the Vikings.
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