The Jacksonville Jaguars’ signing of Myles Jack to a four-year contract extension last weekend was obscured because teams were making their last cuts.
But the fact they signed Jack – their second-round pick in 2016 — and haven’t signed Yannick Ngakoue – their third-round pick in the same draft – gives an interesting insight into the Jaguars’ philosophy of signing players.
They don’t seem to like giving premium money to players at a premium position.
Jack got a four-year deal for $57 million with $33 million guaranteed that made him the third-highest paid linebacker.
Linebackers don’t get paid like defensive ends, so the Jaguars were willing to sign Jack and not Ngakoue, who is worth more than Jack got.
The Jaguars seem to like to spend their money at non-premium positions. They gave Andrew Norwell and Brandon Linder the best contracts in the league for a guard and a center when they signed them.
They signed Blake Bortles last year to an extension even though he obviously isn’t a starting caliber quarterback in the NFL (he is currently the Los Angeles Rams’ backup) because it wasn’t premium money for a quarterback.
Even Nick Foles didn’t get premium money for a quarterback, despite the fact he has a Super Bowl win on his resume because he hasn’t proven he is an elite quarterback.
Ngakoue has played like he can be an elite pass rusher, but the Jags don’t want to pay him like one so he will be leaving by 2022 — if not before. He will be a free agent next year and even if they slap the franchise tag on him, he doesn’t have to sign it. If he doesn’t, he can skip training camp and even regular-season games without being fined.
The Jaguars would then have to trade him or put up with a long holdout. They could even franchise him a second year, but it wouldn’t be feasible to do it a third-year because then a player gets quarterback money. That is why they can only franchise him twice.
So sooner or later, Ngakoue will be moving on.
Meanwhile then there is the Jalen Ramsey situation. He was the Jaguars’ first-round pick in the 2016 draft, and the Jaguars have already told him he is not getting an extension this year because they picked up the fifth-year option on him next year.
But will he play for the fifth-year option next year without getting an extension? Ramsey has already said he won’t give the Jaguars a hometown discount. He will certainly want to be the highest-paid cornerback, and the Jaguars may have to agree to pay him that. But is it enough for Ramsey? Will he want to be the highest-paid defensive player? We’ll see.
They may have to open the vault for him. Letting Ngakoue walk is one thing, even if it makes no sense not to lock up one of your best young defensive players. Letting Ramsey walk is another.