The Jaguars have finally traded Yannick Ngakoue, shipping him to the Vikings in exchange for a 2021 second-round pick and a conditional fifth-rounder in 2022. But before that happened, Jacksonville and the Browns were engaged in serious trade talks, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports.
The Browns were mentioned as a potential suitor for Ngakoue this offseason, but until now, there were no concrete reports concerning Cleveland’s interest. Per Cabot, the fact that Ngakoue was dealing with a change in representation during the trade negotiations threw a wrench in the works, and by the time his agency situation was settled, the July 15 deadline for extending franchise-tagged players had passed. While the Browns may have been willing to part with the same draft capital that the Vikings did to land Ngakoue, his status as a potential one-year rental made them less inclined to do so.
However, Ngakoue “really wanted” to play for the Browns, according to Cabot’s sources. The 2016 third-rounder accepted a significant pay cut from his $17.8MM franchise tag number to facilitate his trade to Minnesota, and Cabot says he may have been willing to drop his 2020 salary even more for Cleveland.
But the Browns ultimately elected to move forward with Olivier Vernon, reworking his deal to turn his $15.25MM non-guaranteed pact into $11MM guaranteed with the potential to earn an additional $2MM via incentives. When that happened, it made an Ngakoue trade (or a Jadeveon Clowney signing) much less likely.
Cabot says that Vernon is in the midst of a terrific training camp, and the Browns fully believe that he and Myles Garrett will form an imposing pass rush duo in 2020. Ngakoue obviously has considerably more long-term upside than Vernon, so time will tell if Cleveland — which still has a lot of salary cap space — made the right call.
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