JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of the biggest questions going into Jaguars organized team activities was would Yannick Ngakoue be here? The Jaguars defensive end is entering his fourth season and is in line for a huge contract extension.
Ngakoue missed portions of the first two phases of the Jaguars offseason program. On Tuesday, he explained why he showed up for the start of OTAs.
“Just trying to build some team camaraderie and be a leader,” said Ngakoue following Tuesday’s practice. “That’s the main reason why I came back.”
During day No. 1 of OTAs, Ngakoue participated in all of the individual drills but was held out of the team drills. After practice he explained that was their plan going into OTAs.
“I think it’s always good when you’re around your teammates,” said coach Doug Marrone when asked if he liked the message Ngakoue sent by showing up for OTAs. “Consistency and being around, I think that’s part of the chemistry and all the other stuff, so yeah, I’m appreciative of all the players that are here during this voluntary period.”
The key word there is voluntary. Ngakoue said that he plans on being in Jacksonville for the remainder of OTAs. In the meantime he’ll let his agent and the Jaguars front office handle his potential contract extension.
“It’s self-explanatory what I’ve done in three years,” said Ngakoue. “That’s more of a front office question. They control those things. The only thing I can control is getting better. So that’s why I left and tried to get better.”
Ngakoue is in the final year of his rookie deal, which will pay him just over $2 million in 2019. Over his first three seasons, Ngakoue has 80 tackles, 29.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles.
Guys who can consistently put pressure on the quarterback usually get paid. Earlier this offseason, defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence (Dallas) and Frank Clark (Kansas City) each signed new contracts that pay them an average of $20 million per season.
For comparison, Ngakoue stands to only make a total of $3.8 million over his first four seasons in the NFL.
“It’s not a secret, we can all go to the computer and see what those guys are making,” said Ngakoue. “At the end of the day, it’s a blessing to be in this position. And I’m thankful.”
The Jaguars don’t have to grant Ngakoue his wish of a new long-term contract. They could let him play out the season and then place the franchise tag on him. Ngakoue could threaten to hold out this season as leverage to get a new deal. However, he said that plan is not an option for him.
“Of course I’m going to play," he said. "I love the game. I’ve been playing this game my whole life and that’s what I’m here to do.”