Yannick Ngakoue

Trade Notes: Packers, McKinley, Alexander

We heard earlier today that the Packers were eying Texans wideout Will Fuller, but there were reportedly disagreements among high-level Packers officials on whether they should make a play for a receiver. While head coach Matt LaFleur said he was unsure if “anything ever got that serious,” he was sure that he’s on the same page with general manager Brian Gutekunst.

“I have no idea where anything like that would ever come from,” LaFleur said of the reports (via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky). “We’re in constant communication, we’re on the same page and there is no truth to that. I promise you that.”

While receiver Davante Adams expressed confidence in his teammates, he previously acknowledged that he’d welcome some help at the position.

“I wouldn’t say we necessarily need to, because I think we’ve shown what we can do,” Adams said. “When I went down, guys stepped up and did what they had to do. Stepped up big. I wouldn’t say it’s a need. Obviously, I’ve said this before, I don’t think it’s any secret that could help us potentially. I wouldn’t be opposed to it. It could help us. But I definitely got full faith and trust in my guys here to be able to get it done.”

As Demovsky notes, the Packers could be getting some reinforcement at the position, as receiver Allen Lazard could return this weekend. The 24-year-old had eight catches for 146 yards and one score in Week 3, but he’s been sidelined since undergoing core muscle surgery.

Some more trade notes from around the NFL:

  • The Falcons were seeking a fourth-round pick for defensive end Takkarist McKinley, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (via Twitter). We heard last week that the former first-rounder was on the trade block, but the 25-year-old declared last night that he wasn’t going anywhere. McKinley has compiled only eight tackles and one sack in four games this season, and he hasn’t played more than 40-percent of his team’s defensive snaps since Week 1.
  • After acquiring defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in a preseason trade with the Jaguars, the Vikings traded the veteran to the Ravens back in October. ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes that the trade conditions from the conditional fifth-rounder that Minnesota sent Jacksonville still apply. That fifth-rounder will turn into a fourth-rounder if Ngakoue goes to the Pro Bowl (with the Ravens). It’s worth noting that the Vikings received a conditional fifth-rounder in their trade with Baltimore, and there’s a good chance that selection contains many of the same conditions.
  • The pick the Dolphins received in the Isaiah Ford trade with the Patriots is a conditional sixth-rounder, tweets Jeff Howe of The Athletic. Howe adds that the pick could turn into a seventh-rounder if the conditions aren’t met.
  • The conditional fifth-round pick that the Saints sent the 49ers in the Kwon Alexander trade has a bit more intrigue. The MMQB’s Albert Breer tweets that it’s a 2022 pick that’s heading to San Francisco, although that could turn into a 2021 selection based on “play-time markers.”
  • Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup was presumably never on the block, as VP Stephen Jones said last week that the organization wouldn’t be trading the 24-year-old (via The Athletic’s Jon Machota on Twitter). Following a breakout 2019 campaign, Gallup has disappointed a bit in 2020, hauling in 26 receptions for 432 yards and one score through eight games (seven starts).

Trade Notes: Vikings, Giants, Dunlap, Jets

The Vikings greenlit this season’s biggest trade thus far by sending Yannick Ngakoue to the Ravens for third- and fifth-round picks. While GM Rick Spielman said the team is not waving a white flag on its 2020 season, Albert Breer of SI.com notes the Vikings are willing to make more seller’s trades. Teams have contacted them about Kyle Rudolph, their 10th-year tight end who is in the first season of his latest Minnesota extension. The Vikings signed Rudolph to a four-year, $36MM extension but did so shortly after drafting Irv Smith Jr. in the second round. While Breer notes the Vikes are open for business on contract-year players, the soon-to-be 31-year-old Rudolph would make sense as a trade chip as well. He was a trade candidate before he signed his extension. Guard Pat Elflein and franchise-tagged safety Anthony Harris are the Vikings’ highest-profile contract-year players.

Here is the latest from the trade market:

  • While this year’s NFC East could be historically bad, the Giants are 1-6 and in a seller’s position again. They have fielded calls on Kevin Zeitler and Golden Tate, according to Breer. Tate has been a deadline chip before, with the Lions sending him to the Eagles in 2018. Tate’s through-2022 contract, thanks to a PED suspension in 2019, contains no more guaranteed money. Zeitler’s deal runs through 2021. The upper-echelon guard has more than $5MM in salary remaining this season and is due a $12MM base in 2021. The Giants acquired Zeitler via trade in 2019.
  • Washington has lost five straight and is also willing to listen on veterans, per Breer. Two that have come up: edge defenders Ryan Kerrigan and Ryan Anderson. The former is Washington’s all-time sack leader; he has three this season for a deep D-line group. But Washington drafted Montez Sweat and Chase Young in the past two first rounds, creating a rare surplus that has moved Kerrigan to a rotational role. Kerrigan and Anderson are in contract years.
  • Carlos Dunlap took issue with the Bengals demoting him, joining Geno Atkins in voicing frustration about playing time. The Bengals were not eager to deal veterans last year, despite their struggles in a 2-14 season, but Breer adds teams view Dunlap as available for trade. Dunlap is Cincinnati’s all-time sack leader but still played a part-time role for the team last week, despite Sam Hubbard‘s IR placement. The Bengals are expected to cut Dunlap in 2021.
  • The Jets dealt nose tackle Steve McLendon to the Buccaneers shortly after their Week 6 game, and in a rare development, McLendon knew he would be a postgame trade piece a day in advance. The Jets interestingly opted not to hold him out of last week’s game. “I got the news on Saturday night that a car would be waiting for me after the game Sunday to come to Tampa,” McLendon said, via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. “I was like, ‘OK.’ Sunday morning, I woke up, I prayed, and I was like, ‘This is one last ride.’ A lot of guys were saying, ‘Man, you’re really gonna play?’ And I was like, ‘Man, this could be the last time I play with y’all in my career.'” The 11th-year veteran will now be tasked with replacing Vita Vea.
  • Traded players must go through similar protocols to free agency additions. They must pass a COVID-19 test for five days straight and pass a sixth on the day they enter the facility. This formed the Ravens‘ timetable on their Ngakoue trade, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (on Twitter), in order for the defensive end to practice Wednesday and play against the Steelers next week.

Vikings Trade Yannick Ngakoue To Ravens

The Vikings are finalizing a trade to send defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Ravens, as ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets. In exchange, the Vikings will receive a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick. 

The Vikings acquired Ngakoue from the Jaguars earlier this year for a 2021 second-round pick and 2022 conditional fifth-round pick to Jags. They weren’t able to recoup everything they gave up, but they did manage to get a decent amount of draft capital for the mercurial edge rusher.

After COVID testing, Ngakoue will be able to join the Ravens in practice during their bye week. His first game with Baltimore will come next Sunday, against the Steelers. The Ravens have been chasing Ngakoue for the last few months, and the interest has been mutual. Ngakoue, a Maryland native and a Terrapin alum, will debut with his third pro team in familiar surroundings. The deal also reunites Ngakoue with Calais Campbell, who played together and started together in the Jaguars’ 2017 AFC Championship Game.

We are excited to add Yannick Ngakoue to our football team,” Ravens GM Eric DeCosta said in a statement. “Yannick is someone who we are very familiar with going back to the draft process years ago. He is an exciting player and a dangerous pass rusher who makes us better. Yannick grew up here. He’s the type of person we welcome in our building. Finally, we are not finished building this team, as we continue to chase our ultimate goals.”

The Ravens and Jags were deep in talks at one point, but the Ravens’ salary cap situation ultimately prevented a deal from happening. Ultimately, Ngakoue agreed to reduce his 2020 salary from ~$18MM to $12MM in order to facilitate a trade to the Vikings. The Maryland product likely would have been willing to make a similar concession to make a Ravens trade work, but even a $12MM salary would have forced Baltimore to create cap space elsewhere via restructure or extension. Today, they had more room to work with, thanks to help from Brandon Williams and other reworked deals.

Ngakoue figures to provide a major boost for the 5-1 Ravens. Meanwhile, the trade reads as something of a white flag for the Vikings, who are 1-5 and quickly falling out of playoff contention.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Tried To Trade For Yannick Ngakoue

The Ravens have made several attempts to upgrade their pass rushing corps this offseason. In addition to a creative sign-and-trade attempt to land Jadeveon Clowney, which was nixed by the league, Baltimore also tried to trade for former Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

La Canfora says the Ravens and Jags were “deep in talks” and had agreed that Baltimore would send a second-round pick to Jacksonville in exchange for Ngakoue, but the Ravens’ salary cap situation ultimately prevented a deal from being completed. At the time of the trade discussions, the Ravens had roughly $6MM in cap space, and while the team did create some (perhaps temporary) room when it released Earl Thomas, Baltimore apparently was not comfortable depleting all of its reserves.

Ultimately, Ngakoue was sent to the Vikings and agreed to reduce his 2020 salary from ~$18MM to $12MM in order to facilitate the trade. The Maryland product likely would have been willing to make a similar concession to make a Ravens trade work, but even a $12MM salary would have forced Baltimore to create cap space elsewhere via restructure or extension.

The team did just create $3MM in cap space several days ago by reworking Brandon Williams‘ contract, and look for the Ravens to continue their pursuit of a pass rusher. Baltimore is said to be monitoring Ziggy Ansah, and perhaps a deal will come together after Week 1. Failing that, GM Eric DeCosta could swing a trade in advance of this year’s deadline, just as he did last year in acquiring CB Marcus Peters from the Rams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Decker, Mixon, Ngakoue, Dotson

There have been a handful of extensions, reworked contracts, and brand-new deals signed over the past few weeks. We’ve provided updates on some of those notable deals below:

  • Taylor Decker, LT (Lions): Four-year, $60MM extension. Includes $7.5MM signing bonus (paid out in 17 installments in 2020). Salaries: $6.85MM (2020), $13MM fully guaranteed (2021), $14.75MM fully guaranteed (2022), $13.7MM (2023), $12.95MM (2024). $250K workout bonuses (2022-2024), $500 roster bonus (2024). Via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter.
  • Joe Mixon, RB (Bengals): Four-year, $48MM extension. Includes $10MM signing bonus. Salaries: $1.3MM (2020), $8MM (2021), $8MM (2022), $9.4MM (2023). $9.6MM club option in 2024. $500K in playing time bonuses, $200K in offseason workout bonuses (each season). Via Rapoport on Twitter.
  • Yannick Ngakoue, DE (Vikings): One year, $12MM reworked deal. $8MM base salary and $4MM signing bonus. Via Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling on Twitter.
  • Demar Dotson, RT (Broncos): One-year, $3MM deal. $1.15MM salary ($400K guaranteed). $100K roster bonus, $250K game-day roster bonuses. $1.5MM in incentives. Via Mike Klis of 9News on Twitter.

Vikings’ Yannick Ngakoue Takes Pay Cut

Yannick Ngakoue really, really wanted out of Jacksonville. The former Jaguars defensive end has agreed to a new one-year deal with the Vikings that will pay him just $12MM, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). Under his terms of his one-year tender, Ngakoue would have made $17.8MM. 

[RELATED: Vikings Acquire Yannick Ngakoue From Jaguars]

Furthermore, the new deal does not include a no-tag clause. The Vikings will retain the right to cuff Ngakoue in 2021, which would delay his free agency by yet another year. Opinions are split on Ngakoue because of his pressures-to-sacks ratio and his social media spats with Jaguars brass. Regardless, it’s hard to see this acquisition as anything but a major victory for the Vikings. The Vikings got the promising 25-year-old edge rusher for a second-round pick and change, and they’re now getting him at a ~25% discount.

Ngakoue is not particularly strong against the run, but he has averaged over nine sacks per season over his first four years in the league, and he has also shown some serious play-making ability. He has forced 14 fumbles to date and he boasted a pass-rush win rate of 21% as an edge rusher last season. That topped the win rate of his new partner Danielle Hunter (15%) as well as Everson Griffen (17%), who has moved on to the Cowboys.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Were In Serious Talks For Yannick Ngakoue

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Notes: Gase, Bell, Ngakoue

Earlier this week, there was yet another tense moment between Jets head coach Adam Gase and running back Le’Veon Bell. As Rich Cimini of ESPN.com details, Gase pulled Bell after two series during Wednesday’s scrimmage because of hamstring tightness. That prompted Bell to take to Twitter to say that there was nothing wrong with his hamstrings and that “it’s tough to stay loose when you do a bunch of standing around.”

Gase said that he spoke with Bell for a long time after the Twitter posts and that the two sides are on the same page. But as Cimini writes in a separate piece, the latest episode might not be the last one. Bell has reportedly had an unimpressive camp, and Gase has previously indicated he wants to reduce Bell’s workload in 2020. So Bell, who needs a productive season in order to avoid being cut — or to land a lucrative contract with another club — is unlikely to appreciate his fellow backs siphoning off his carries. It remains a situation ripe for future turmoil.

Now for more from Gang Green:

  • Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News has previously reported that GM Joe Douglas is under cash-flow restrictions imposed by Jets ownership, and he reiterated that report today. He says ownership gave Douglas a “hard time” after last year’s one-year, $8.4MM contract for Ryan Kalil didn’t pan out, and he also suggests that the club’s tight-fistedness prevented the team from pursuing Yannick Ngakoue, who was just traded to the Vikings (Twitter links).
  • On the other hand, the restraint that Douglas showed in free agency this offseason was generally lauded in light of the team’s recent history with splashy signings, so it’s difficult to say whether that restraint was due to a mandate from ownership or just a deliberately measured approach. And as Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets, the Jets were not hugely interested in Ngakoue to begin with given his struggles against the run and the fact that the deadline for an extension passed on July 15.
  • Backup QB Joe Flacco is eyeing a Week 3 return, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Jets signed the former Super Bowl MVP to back up Sam Darnold, and Flacco has been working his way back from neck surgery.

Vikings To Acquire Yannick Ngakoue From Jaguars

Yannick Ngakoue finally got his wish. As Adam Schefter of ESPN.com was the first to report, the Jaguars have traded their disgruntled defensive end to the Vikings in exchange for a 2021 second-round pick and a conditional 2022 fifth-round selection that could become a fourth- or third-round choice.

Ngakoue has wanted out of Jacksonville for some time. Last July, he became upset when then-executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin abruptly ended extension negotiations with the 2016 third-rounder, and while he did suit up for the club in the 2019 season, he made it clear this offseason that the relationship between him and the team was beyond repair.

The Jaguars put the franchise tag on him, valued at $17.8MM, but he did not sign the tag, and all indications were that, if he wasn’t traded, he was going to stay away from the team until Week 10 of the 2020 season. That would have been the deadline for him to be able to count 2020 as an accredited year towards free agency.

Given his very public unhappiness with Jacksonville, the fact that the deadline for tagged players to sign an extension passed on July 15, and his high franchise tag number, the Jags didn’t have a ton of leverage. But GM Dave Caldwell managed to finagle two draft picks out of the Vikings, and Schefter says the 2022 fifth-rounder will become a fourth-rounder if Ngakoue makes the Pro Bowl in 2020 and will become a third-rounder if he makes the Pro Bowl and the Vikings win the Super Bowl.

From the Vikings’ perspective, that’s a relatively small price to pay for the chance to bookend Ngakoue with another talented young pass rusher, Danielle Hunter. The team lost longtime stalwart Everson Griffen to the Cowboys earlier this month, and as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes, Minnesota began working on an Ngakoue deal as soon as it became clear Griffen wasn’t coming back (Twitter link).

In order to make the trade work, the Vikings did have to create some cap room. Further proving just how desperate he was to get out of Jacksonville, Ngakoue reduced his 2020 pay from $17.8MM to just below $13MM to facilitate the deal (Twitter link via Albert Breer of SI.com). Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com reports that Minnesota could also rework an existing contract and names LT Riley Reiff as a potential restructure candidate. Cronin says the team will not cut a player just for salary cap purposes (Twitter links).

However, Cronin points out that the Ngakoue acquisition could mean that the team is not going to reach an extension with running back Dalvin Cook (Twitter link). The two sides recently agreed to table contract negotiations, and without a major cost-cutting move or two, Cook may be destined for free agency in 2021.

But that’s another story for another day. For now, the Vikings have solidified their status as one of the top teams in the NFC, and the Hunter-Ngakoue combination will be a formidable one for opposing offenses, especially when considering the similar excellence the team enjoys in its LB and DB corps.

Ngakoue is not particularly strong against the run, but he has averaged over nine sacks per season over his first four years in the league, and he has also shown some serious play-making ability. He has forced 14 fumbles to date, and as Schefter writes, the Maryland product is directly responsible for five of the 12 defensive touchdowns the Jaguars have scored since 2016. Cronin observes in a full-length piece that Ngakoue had a pass-rush win rate of 21% as an edge rusher last season, which ranked higher than Griffen (17%) and Hunter (15%).

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes that the Vikings plan to sign Ngakoue to a long-term deal after the 2020 season (video link). While Minnesota will have a number of other contract issues to address, pairing Ngakoue and Hunter together for the foreseeable future will be an indubitably tempting proposition.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Ngakoue, Benson, Campbell

A little over a week ago, Michael Lombardi of The Athletic reported that the Jaguars were on the verge of a deal that would ship disgruntled defensive end Yannick Ngakoue out of Jacksonville. Jags GM Dave Caldwell refuted the report, saying no trade involving Ngakoue is imminent.

But Lombardi has doubled down and insists a trade will happen soon (subscription required). He says Ngakoue is not motivated by money right now, he is motivated by a change of scenery, so he is not worried about missing game checks. According to Lombardi, if Ngakoue is not traded, he will not report until the 10th game of the season, the deadline for him to be able to count the 2020 season as an accredited year towards free agency. And at that point, the trade deadline will be in the rear-view mirror and the Jaguars will be left with nothing but a comp pick when Ngakoue signs elsewhere.

On the other hand, Lombardi’s second report linked above was published on August 21, and nothing has materialized on the Ngakoue front since then. It is, as ever, a situation to keep an eye on.

Now for more from the league’s south divisions:

  • Saints owner Gayle Benson tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced. Luckily, the 73-year-old was not hospitalized and is recovering at her New Orleans home. Benson is the second NFL owner to test positive, joining the Cardinals’ Michael Bidwill. Bidwill was hospitalized for his symptoms but appears to have made a full recovery, and it sounds as if Benson will do the same.
  • Mike Chappell of Fox 59 reports that Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell is in the concussion protocol following a minor car accident earlier this week. Indianapolis nabbed the Ohio State speedster in the second round of last year’s draft, and after his rookie campaign was derailed due to injury, he was in the midst of a solid training camp this year. He is a roster lock, of course, but it’s unfortunate that his positive momentum has been slowed a bit.
  • The Texans activated Gareon Conley from the PUP list earlier this month, and Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports that the 2017 first-rounder is progressing well from his offseason arthroscopic ankle surgery. Houston declined Conley’s fifth-year option for 2021, so he will be eligible for free agency next year and could cash in with a strong platform campaign. However, Wilson says second-year pro Lonnie Johnson and Conley are neck-and-neck for a starting job, as Conley has been inconsistent since his return to the field.
  • We learned earlier today that the Buccaneers are interested in extending longtime LB Lavonte David.