Well, so much for the Jaguars having defensive and Yannick Ngakoue join them for minicamp this week.
In the latest off-field controversy for Jacksonville and their management to deal with, the star defensive end, who said late last month that he would continue to report to offseason workouts, while his future lucrative contract gets worked out, has now done a complete reversal.
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter was the first to release comment from Ngakoue that he will not be part of Jaguars three day mandatory minicamp slated to begin Tuesday:
Statement from Jaguars’ DE Yannick Ngakoue: “I will not be attending minicamp as my contract has not been resolved. I remain committed to Jacksonville, the fans and my teammates. My hope is to be with Jacksonville for years to come.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 10, 2019
As we wrote three weeks ago Ngakoue talked at Jaguars OTAs about his situation, and how he is slated to make $2,000,000 this season. Or, roughly about an eighth of what the top 5 defensive ends in the NFL make on average ($15.5 million).
He was asked then about being that underpaid and, Ngakoue answered,
“That’s not a secret. We all can go on the computer and see what they’re gettin’… At the end of the day it’s a blessing to be in that position and I’m thankful.”
Ngakoue’s “worth” has been as Jacksonville’s best pass-rusher over his three-year career accumulating 29.5 sacks (9.5 in 2018) and 70 quarterback hits. This after being an unheralded 3rd round draft pick out of Maryland in 2016. But, the Jaguars bigger problem is obviously financial, as Ngakoue made only $735,000 a year ago.
Ngakoue skipping minicamp is the latest in a string of off-field problems that Jacksonville has experienced, including star Pro Bowl linebacker Telvin Smith announcing in May that he will not play football this season. And, Smith has yet to disclose why and if it’s potentially about money for him?
The Jaguars also had star running back Leonard Fournette get arrested in Jacksonville on outstanding traffic violations. He has since plead the case to avoid jail time. The Jags have stocked up on veteran running back depth for this season by adding veterans Thomas Rawls and Alfred Blue and drafting former Temple RB Ryquell Armstead.
As for Ngakoue, he is being heavily counted on for a veteran pass rush presence in 2019. This is with the team having traded former number one pick Dante Fowler to the Rams last October, but drafting former Kentucky star pass rusher Josh Allen at #7 overall in April.
Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue hinting he’s gone again?
One of the key free-agent questions for the Jaguars continues to be whether or not they’re going to allow their best pass rusher, Yannick Ngakoue, to test the free-agent market coming up? And, once again, the player may be giving a clue that he’s going to do just that.
Ngakoue tweeted Wednesday morning the following phrase, which seems to indicate, yet again, that he will be playing somewhere else in 2020:
— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) February 26, 2020
This goes along with something that we wrote earlier in January. That’s when just a couple of days after the season Ngakoue posted essentially a goodbye message to Jaguar fans. This came on the heels of him having held out for a new contract for the first few days of training camp last August, but not receiving a new deal during the season, etc.
Ngakoue, whose 37.5 career sacks are the most by a Jaguars player after 63 career games, is sure to be a sought-after player from many different teams. GM Dave Caldwell said at the end of the season when asked about re-sgning his star pass rusher, “He is a tremendous player and even a better person. How he handled his business this year was tremendous. But, I would say that’s priority No. 1, to make sure he comes back to Jacksonville. Hopefully, we can get that done. ″
It’s also worth noting that at Tuesday’s NFL Scouting Combine at media availability in Indianapolis, coach Doug Marrone repeated that he wants Ngakoue to remain in Jaguars teal and white:
Doug Marrone: ‘’No doubt where I stand or the coaches.”
—They want Yannick Ngakoue back. pic.twitter.com/vOorH4hH95
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 26, 2020
However, it remains to be seen if Marrone and Caldwell are willing to “pony up” huge money for him or even potentially, put the franchise tag on him before free agency begins next month?
Ngakoue figures to want a contract close to what the top ends are getting paid right now. Demarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark both signed five-year, over $100 million deals in 2019 and received guaranteed money that exceeded $62 million. That is massive for Jacksonville.
If the Jags opt for the “franchise tag,” then the talented end will be making around $19 million dollars, which is the current average of the top five players at his position. The Jaguars could also put the tag on him and then work on a longer term, salary cap friendly, deal that would replace the tag later in the off season.
Jaguars confirm they are declining option on DT Dareus
At Tuesday’s media session at the NFL Scouting Combine, Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell made official what had been rumored for the last couple of days regarding defensive tackle Marcell Dareus: he will not be brought back for a fourth season in Jacksonville.
Caldwell confirmed the Jaguars are not picking up DT Marcell Dareus' option.
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 25, 2020
Dareus only played briefly in 2019, as he suffered a core muscle injury that sidelined him after only six games and he was placed on injured reserve. The former number one pick of the Buffalo Bills had played for coach Doug Marrone for a couple of seasons in Western New York.
Marrone and Caldwell traded for Dareus during the 2017 season and he helped them with their rise to the AFC South title and two playoff wins. This included Darius registering two sacks and four other tackles-for-loss in the Jaguars three playoff games that year.
Dareus made the Pro Bowl twice in Buffalo in 2013-14.
However, he has not lived up to his hefty contract that was reworked Jacksonville last February. Last season, Dareus made over $8 million dollars and the team would have been on the hook for $20 million this year had they picked up the option. That obviously wasn’t going to happen.
Dareus also has had legal troubles off the field, including a civil suit against him in Tampa for alleged sexual misconduct. As we wrote previously, a woman alleged that Dareus had sexually assaulted her in January of 2018 at a North Tampa Florida home, while Dareus was in town for the Alabama-Clemson College Football Playoff Championship Game.
However, that suit filed in Hillsborough County court was “dismissed with prejudice” last April, which means it cannot be re-filed.
Dareus, if healthy after the core muscle injury rehab, may have some value as a defensive tackle on the free agent market.
As for the Jaguars, they have former #1 pick defensive tackle Taven Bryan to play more in the middle and are trying to decide if free agent-to-be, DE Yannick Ngakoue, can be afforded for their 2020 salary cap?