Jaguars star defender Yannick Ngakoue still doesn’t have a new contract, but he reported to camp Sunday, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. He needed to report by Tuesday in order for 2019 to count as an accrued season towards free agency, and the 24-year-old pass rusher did not want to miss that deadline. He is now eligible for unrestricted free agency next year.
The last report concerning negotiations between Ngakoue and Jacksonville indicated that the club had offered a short-term extension to the Maryland product, which Ngakoue declined. It is currently unclear how close the two sides are to getting something done, but Ngakoue indicated that talks are not active. He said, “I don’t want to keep talking about the deal. Like I said they had a chance to sign me for a long-term deal and it didn’t get done” (Twitter link via James Palmer of the NFL Network).
However, Ngakoue’s return does restore a key piece to one of the league’s best defensive lines, a unit that includes players like four-time Pro Bowler Calais Campbell and promising rookie Josh Allen. With 29.5 sacks, 70 QB hits, and no missed games over the last three years, Ngakoue has emerged as one of the best young pass-rushers in the league, and if the Jags are to return to contention this season, he will likely be a big reason for it.
Luckily, the 2016 third-round draft choice apparently doesn’t need any time to knock the rust off. Head coach Doug Marrone said that Ngakoue has passed his conditioning test and will immediately be a full participant in practice (Twitter link via John Oehser of Jaguars.com).
The team has officially removed Ngakoue from the Reserve/Did Not Report list and has waived Fish Smithson in a corresponding move.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.