Yannick Ngakoue decided to be on himself this year and he appears to be winning that bet.
Ngakoue turned down what he thought was a low-ball offer from the Jaguars in the offseason and decided to play out the final year of his rookie contract at $2.025 million.
He knew a big year in 2019 would set him up for a monster contract in 2020 when he becomes a free agent.
The Jaguars can franchise him but if he doesn’t sign the tender, he is not considered under contract and the Jaguars can’t fine him if he is a no show until he gets paid or traded.
Well, it looks like Nagkoue is having the type of season that will earn him a big deal next year.
Just listen to coach Doug Marrone talk about him this week.
“When you see the production by him you have to remember that teams are doing a lot to stop him, especially in the pass rush phase,” Marrone said. “He’s had a bunch of quality rushes, but he’s also had a bunch of double teams that he is fighting through or chips.
“I think he has improved greatly in the run game. I think he’s done a really good job there, and I think he has improved as a pass rusher and has done an excellent job. The numbers may not show that, but when you watch the film and you see how many people, they are putting on him, I think at times that can be very discouraging, and he has done a great job in a lot of ways.
“He has been great in the locker room, he’s been great in practice, he is doing everything he possibly can to help this team win and you couldn’t ask for more from a player.”
The numbers Marrone was talking about don’t make it look like he is having a great year. He has just four sacks, eight quarterback hits, one forced fumble and 18 tackles in nine games.
But he not only played hurt at the start of the year, Marrone makes it sound like he is having a stellar year despite the numbers. And pass rushers are at a premium.
Now the ball is in the Jaguars court. They didn’t offer him enough to get him to signed after his sacks dropped from 12 in 2017 to 9.5 last year and didn’t make the Pro Bowl again although his quarterback hits jumped from 23 and 33.
Unfortunately for Ngakoue, Marrone isn’t involved in contract talks. Tom Coughlin has the final decision and Dave Caldwell does most of the negotiating.
It remains him to be seen if they will pay him what he thinks he is worth since Josh Allen seems to be a star in the making.
Having Allen and Ngakoue as the pass rushers would the next few years would seem to be a plus for the Jaguars but it remains to be seen if the Jaguars front office sees it that way.
But assuming the rest of the league looks at his film and sees it the same way Marrone does, one thing is obvious — Ngakoue is going to get a big contract next year.
If not from the Jaguars, he will get it from a team that needs a pass rusher who has improved against the run this year.