Las Vegas Raiders: 3 Potential Free Agent targets at Defensive End
By Matt Holder
Even with Marcell Dareus out of the picture, it’s hard to tell what the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to do with pending free agent, Yannick Ngakoue. According to OverTheCap.com, the Jags only have about $21.5 million dollars in cap space and Ngakoue reportedly is asking for top-dollar for his services.
Sure, the team will likely try to talk him down or apply the franchise tag to him, but the tag will cost about $19.5 million and that wouldn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for Jacksonville. Plus, with promising rookie Josh Allen, the front office may not feel too much pressure to keep the four-year veteran around. These next few weeks will give more clarity on Ngakoue’s future, but if he’s let go, he should be in play for the Raiders.
While he’s only eclipsed the double-digit sack mark in a single-season once, the pass rusher has been very productive and consistent throughout his career. Every year he’s had at least eight sacks and his 37.5 career sacks and 85 career quarterback hits rank 12th and eighth since 2016. Considering Ngakoue turns 25-years-old next month, he could just be scratching the surface and could have even better years in front of him.
However, there is a bit of an issue with scheme fit when it comes to the edge defender and Las Vegas. He’s primarily played as an outside linebacker in the Jaguars’ 3-4 defense and isn’t very good against the run. Raiders’ Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther prefers defensive linemen who stick their hand in the dirt and can hold their own against the ground game.
The concerns about fit with the team and how much money the defensive end will command are legitimate. It’s a big risk to take but the organization does have about $50 million to play with and Ngakoue has shown the ability to rush the passer as a true defensive end, so as long as the coaching staff can make his deficiencies as run-defender, he’d be worth the gamble.