JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue plans to skip Jacksonville’s mandatory three-day minicamp that begins Tuesday in hopes of getting a new contract.
Ngakoue’s agent, Roc Nation Sports, released a statement on behalf of the 2017 Pro Bowl selection a day before camp.
“I will not be attending minicamp as my contract has not been resolved,” Ngakoue said. “I remain committed to Jacksonville, the fans and my teammates. My hope is to be with Jacksonville for years to come.”
The announcement ended weeks of speculation surrounding Ngakoue, who showed up for the start of voluntary organized team activities last month , vowed to attend the remaining dozen practices, and emphatically said he plans to play this season even if he doesn’t get a long-term contract. He bailed on teammates and coaches three days later. He also skipped most of Jacksonville’s voluntary offseason conditioning program to work out in Miami.
The former Maryland standout, a third-round draft pick in 2016, is entering the fourth and final year of a $3.84 million rookie deal. He’s due to make $2.025 million this fall — far less than other top playmakers at his position.
Two teammates went to bat for Ngakoue shortly after his statement dropped. Two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey posted two pictures of his defensive teammate on his Instagram story, adding the words “ready to see my brudda get what he had earned!! Pay him!!” to the first. And running back Leonard Fournette tweeted “Pay @YannickNgakoue.”
The Jaguars have said they want to re-sign the 24-year-old Ngakoue, but there’s no guarantee it will happen.
Although it’s clear Ngakoue has outperformed his current deal, he’s also an undersized defensive end who could be stouter against the run. Plus, the Jaguars landed his potential replacement in April when they selected Kentucky standout Josh Allen with the seventh overall pick in the draft.
Allen bruised his right knee during the team’s first OTA and hasn’t practiced since. Ngakoue left Jacksonville shortly after coach Doug Marrone announced Allen’s injury and said the team would be cautious with his return.
Jacksonville has roughly $13 million in salary cap space for 2019 and probably would need to be creative to pay Ngakoue now. The team would gain nearly $10 million more if linebacker Telvin Smith, who intends to sit out this season , fails to show up for training camp.
Ngakoue has 29 ½ sacks and 10 forced fumbles in three NFL seasons. He finished with 9 ½ sacks last year, but had no strip sacks for the first time in his NFL career.