If the Eagles were interested in pending free agent Yannick Ngakoue, things just got a bit trickier.
On Monday morning, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Jaguars are planning to slap a franchise tag on the talented young pass rusher.
That will prevent Ngakoue from hitting the open market on March 18 but it doesn’t mean it’s going to keep him in Jacksonville. In fact, if the Jaguars were thinking about having Ngakoue play for them in 2020, the defensive end let everyone know he’s ready to move on.
The Jaguars are aware I no longer have interest in signing a long term contract in Jacksonville. Duval, I love you and gave you guys everything I got. I’m thankful for the journey and look forward to continuing my career elsewhere. -91— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) March 2, 2020
So if the Eagles are interested in Ngakoue — and they should be — it would take a trade to get him to Philadelphia.
The problem with this scenario, of course, is that the price tag for Ngakoue just got raised quite a bit. Not with money, but because now any team that wants to get him will have to part with a draft pick(s) and then still need to sign him to a top-of-the-market deal … but at least without other teams bidding.
The franchise tag price in 2020 for defensive ends is expected to be nearly $20 million, but any team signing him long-term would rip that up if they reached a deal.
Think back to the Frank Clark situation last offseason. The Seahawks tagged him in March and traded him in April.
Seahawks gave: Clark, third-rounder (No. 84) in 2019
Chiefs gave: First-rounder (No. 29) in 2019, third-rounder (No. 92) in 2019, second-rounder (No. 64) in 2020
Clark then signed a five-year, $100+ million contract, had a Pro Bowl season and helped the Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV.
And then there was the Jadeveon Clowney situation. The Texans tagged him but didn’t trade him until August, after the deadline to extend franchise-tagged players.
Texans gave: Clowney
Seahawks gave: Jacob Martin, Barkevious Mingo, third-rounder pick in 2020 (eventually traded for Gareon Conley)
The price tag for Clowney was lower but the Seahawks could not work out a long-term deal with him, which is one reason Clowney is about to become a free agent in a couple weeks.
Either way, it would be an undoubtedly high price for the Eagles if they were really interested in Ngakoue … and they would presumably want to sign him to a long-term deal. Because there are plenty of reasons for them to want him. First, he’s still just 24; he doesn’t turn 25 until later this month.
And since he entered the NFL in 2016, Ngakoue has been very consistent. He has 8, 12, 9.5 and 8 sacks and a total of 14 forced fumbled in four seasons.
And unlike the other top pending free agent pass rusher (Clowney), Ngakoue has proven to be durable. He has missed one game in four seasons.
While the Eagles’ top two needs this offseason are clearly wide receiver and cornerback, defensive end is a sneaky need. The Eagles will bring back starters Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett in 2020 but Graham is on the wrong side of 30 and Barnett has potential but hasn’t lived up to it. After that, their backups are Josh Sweat, Genard Avery and Shareef Miller. Vinny Curry is 31 and a pending free agent.
The Eagles are at their best when they’re able to rotate defensive ends and adding a top tier one like Ngakoue would help immediately and for the length of his next contract. It wouldn’t be cheap but the Eagles should be interested.
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