What’s the impact of the big trade that sent Jacksonville Jaguars star DE Yannick Ngakoue to the Minnesota Vikings? A look at how this change of scenery could impact your fantasy teams.
What an off-season it has been for the Jaguars and Yannick Ngakoue! Here we are, less than two weeks from the start of 2020 season and it’s taken six months for this drama to be resolved. Here is how the story played out and the impact it will have. The news just broke this Sunday evening that the Jacksonville Jaguars finally traded star defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Minnesota Vikings.
The big trade wasn’t as expensive as the Jaguars wanted and hoped it would be. Over the past few years and even as recent as a month ago, we have seen some big names command a big haul in return. Trades such as Khalil Mack, DeForest Buckner, and Jamal Adams, to name a few. The Jaguars hoped they would get that big haul and held their ground as long as they could before they folded their hand and cashed out.
The Jaguars drafted Ngakoue in the 3rd round with the 69th overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. In his four seasons in Jacksonville, he played in 63 of a possible 64 games. He produced 122 total tackles, 105 solos, 42 tackles for a loss, 37½ sacks, 14 forced fumbles, three recoveries, one returned for a touchdown, 2 interceptions, and 9 pass breakups. Ngakoue has had at least eight sacks in each of his four seasons. His season high was 2017 when he recorded twelve sacks, ranking 4th in the league, and his six forced fumbles led the NFL. As you can see the 1X Pro Bowler was an impact player for Jacksonville, during his tenure there.
Back in January, before free agency even started, GM Dave Caldwell said that re-signing Ngakoue should be “relatively easy”. From that moment on, it all went downhill and eventually led to the trade today. In February reports came out that Ngakoue was asking to be paid in the $22 million per season range. Then, at the end of February, as free agency was getting set to open in March, reports came out that Jacksonville would franchise tag, their star pass rusher, which would be at the rate of $19.3 million for 2020. A week later Ngakoue, made a statement he would not sign the tag and was no longer interested in a long-term deal with the Jaguars. This led many to speculate that this was all about money.
On March 13th, the Jaguars officially placed the franchise tag on Ngakoue. He continued to say he wouldn’t play under the tag. As the draft drew near, there was speculation that he would be traded by then, as multiple teams reportedly expressed interest and that the Jaguars were looking for a return package including a 1st round pick. As the draft got closer Ngakoue became more demanding in his desire to play elsewhere, stating “Just trade me” and that he was “tired of the back and forth”. Things even escalated to the point that Ngakoue and co-owner Tony Khan had an open exchange on Twitter. It never improved from there, with the Jags finally agreeing to trade Ngakoue to the Vikings today.
The kicker to all this is that everyone believed this was solely about money and that Ngakoue was playing the money game. But that may not be exactly true. He signed a one year deal with the Vikings, worth just $12 million. He left roughly $8 million on the table just so he could leave Jacksonville and sign with a new team. Most players wouldn’t leave that type of money, just to move. He wants a big payday. His willingness to leave money on the table shows me one thing; he wants to win more and is willing to bet on himself!
Future for Ngakoue
What the Vikings get is a star pass rusher to play opposite of their superstar Danielle Hunter. This opening became available when they decided to move on from Everson Griffen who had given them 10 great seasons, recording 74½ sacks during that time. Unfortunately, the mental health issue was a big concern, not to mention he was aging and less productive. Given what he wanted to re-sign with the team, they cut ties with Griffen, and let him hit free agency. Ngakoue gives them a much younger and more talented player to line up across from Hunter. In Griffen’s old role, Ngakoue could produce 8-12 sacks. He will demand attention, preventing Hunter from being double-teamed. This trade was much needed for the continued success of this defense.
Expectations for fantasy owners on Ngakoue should increase just a bit. Ngakoue won’t be the lead pass rusher and can just play his game freely. I believe what he produced in Jacksonville is his floor, with the potential to become a tier 2 pass rusher. It will be hard to acquire him now as most fantasy managers will be asking a lot for him. However, if you are a manager that has Ngakoue on your team, now will be a good time to sell. Potential is worth a ton these days and more often than not, you can get someone to overpay. If try to trade for Ngakoue, work him into a package deal, to lessen the overpay risk