JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the trade of Yannick Ngakoue to Minnesota, only two defensive starters, Abry Jones and Myles Jack, remain from the 2017 Sacksonville defense. That team feels like a lifetime ago.
There are a few ways to look at who won this deal. You can say that Ngakoe got what he wanted—which was to get out of Jacksonville. The Jaguars got some decent compensation for him—although they were looking for a first-round pick in the deal and didn’t get it. The Jaguars did free up cap space as a result. In fact, since March, the Jaguars have freed up over $72 million in cap space by trading or releasing seven players and having three players opt out because of COVID-19 concerns.
Ultimately, we have to wait to see what the draft picks become to fully judge the Jaguars’ side of the deal. If they land a player of Ngakoue’s impact and another regular contributor, perhaps you can make the case that the Jaguars won the trade. If the team develops into a Super Bowl contender, that would help the argument as well.
You can make the case that the Vikings won the trade. They get a proven 25-year-old to ramp up their pass rush, which is big playing in a division with Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford. If Ngakoue plays as well as he did for the Jaguars, the trade value is certainly worth it. Ngakoue has played like a first-round pick since entering the league. Certainly, the salary cap space he’ll command will be part of the equation, but to this point, he’s played like one of the league’s top 10 pass rushers.
I can tell you who the losers are in the deal: Jaguars fans. Those loyal punching bags once again saw a player the team drafted, be productive, and then not get to a second contract. Allen Robinson, Dante Fowler, Jalen Ramsey and now Ngakoue. All guys who the Jaguars couldn’t, or didn’t want to, keep around. All have Pro Bowl talent. All were draft by this team and none of them are suiting up in Teal in 2020.
Every team loses star players from time to time. The Patriots said goodbye to everyone star not name Tom Brady and still won (now that they said goodbye to Brady, we’ll see how things work out). The Jaguars drafted Ngakoue’s replacement last year and Josh Allen delivered as a rookie. They drafted C.J. Henderson as a replacement for Jalen Ramsey. They drafted Taven Bryan hoping he would be the next Calais Campbell. And they drafted DJ Chark to be better than Robinson. So far, Allen and Chark look the part. It’s essential that they hit home runs with the 10 draft choices they will have next year. The future of the Jaguars’ front office and the fans’ sanity depends on it.