Vikings Trade Yannick Ngakoue to Ravens Less Than Two Months After Acquiring Him

Will Ragatz

The Vikings have traded star defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens for a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. This move comes less than two months after the Vikings acquired Ngakoue from the Jaguars for a 2021 second and a 2022 conditional fifth. The team confirmed the move shortly after Schefter's report.

When the Vikings traded for Ngakoue on August 30th, they were envisioning his pass rushing ability making a major impact on a contending team. They knew Danielle Hunter was dealing with a neck injury, but the thought was that Ngakoue could lead the defensive line until Hunter returned, and that the two 25-year-old edge rushers would form a formidable duo for years to come if they were able to re-sign Ngakoue in the offseason.

None of that has gone to plan. Hunter has a herniated disc in his neck that seems likely to keep him out for the entire 2020 season. And while Ngakoue has mostly played well in Minnesota, with five sacks and two forced fumbles in six games, the team around him has struggled mightily in a disappointing 1-5 start to the season.

So the Vikings, less than two months after getting Ngakoue, have pivoted and traded him away to an actual contender in the Ravens. There, he'll reunite with former teammate and mentor Calais Campbell, who was with him between 2017 and 2019 in Jacksonville.

This can only be described as the Vikings trying to make the best of a situation that didn't work out. They must have gotten the sense that Ngakoue was far from a sure thing to sign a long-term deal in Minnesota after this year, or perhaps they realized they weren't going to want to pay him for whatever reason. Either way, they've turned a second-round pick that looks like it will be in the late 30s or early 40s overall into a third-rounder that will be towards the end of Day 2 in the 2021 draft. 

That's a major loss in pick value, but they salvaged something for a player who could've left in free agency for nothing (except a potential 2022 compensatory pick) next spring.

Outside of the five sacks, it's possible the Vikings feel like Ngakoue hasn't made as much of an overall impact as they anticipated. He was second on the team with 16 pressures in six games and was just 47th out of 110 edge rushers in PFF grade, including a poor grade in run defense.

With Hunter unlikely to return to action anytime soon, the struggling Vikings will likely go forward with some combination of Ifeadi Odenigbo, Jalyn Holmes, and rookie D.J. Wonnum at defensive end.

More trades could be coming for Vikings GM Rick Spielman ahead of the Nov. 3rd deadline. Ngakoue was one of four players I mentioned as possible trade candidates for the Vikings, who are suddenly sellers in a lost season.

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