Should Seahawks pursue Yannick Ngakoue if Clowney doesn’t re-sign?

Mar 4, 2020, 1:14 AM
Seahawks free agency, Yannick Ngakoue...
Yannick Ngakoue is set to enter free agency but could be franchise tagged by Jacksonville. (Getty)

There’s a reason the defensive end position carries the second-highest franchise tag number. As quarterbacks and offenses continue to evolve, the ability to stop passers has become paramount, and the league’s premier edge rushers have the rare ability to disrupt even the best offenses.

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That position remains the greatest area of need for Seattle in 2020. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, the player who filled that role for them in 2019 – Jadeveon Clowney – is hitting free agency in two weeks and could very well receive a record-setting deal. Both head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have expressed their desire to see Clowney return this season, but will another team outbid them? That’s a question we discussed on Tom, Jake and Stacy during the first phase of our offseason Seahawks series.

In the second phase, we’ll focus on free agents the Seahawks could bring to Seattle – and that starts with edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue.

Name: Yannick Ngakoue
Current team: Jacksonville Jaguars
Height/weight: 6-4/246
2019 season: 8 sacks, 41 combined tackles, 1 interception, 1 touchdown
Last contract: 4 years, $3.48 million (rookie contract)
Market value (per Spotrac): 5 years, $85.9 million (details)
Player comp (per Spotrac): Frank Clark, Dee Ford, Trey Flowers

“This guy is a true, play-making edge rusher,” Jake Heaps said of Ngakoue on Tuesday (listen here.) “This is a dynamic player. He’s a guy who, when you talk about the Seahawks and how he could fit into their plans defensively, he’s perfect. He’s a LEO edge rusher, the position Cliff Avril played with Seattle.

“Here’s the situation: The Seahawks want and need to sign back Jadeveon Clowney. If they can’t, the next best available pass rusher would be Yannick Ngakoue.”

Acquiring Ngakoue just became a bit tougher for Seattle, though. On Monday, Ngakoue announced via Twitter that he “no longer has interest” in signing a long-term deal with Jacksonville – and while that would normally be good news for other teams, ESPN’s Adam Schefter has since reported that the Jaguars plan to use the franchise tag on the 24-year-old defensive end, meaning acquiring Ngakoue would then require a trade (and, likely, a long-term deal on top of that).

“The 27th pick is the equivalent of $6.1 million in free agent money,” Heaps said, referring to Seattle’s first-round selection in April’s NFL Draft and citing numbers from OverTheCap. “The 103rd pick would be equivalent of $2.7 million. So now you’re adding the contract you’d give plus $9.8 million in draft capital. So to me, the clear answer is that they need to sign Clowney. But if you can’t, there are sometimes players that are worth that. My concern is that while (Ngakoue) is a proven player, if you trade and sign him are you then able to fill all of your other needs? He’s so unique and special, he’s a young player and a very, very productive player. So it’s an interesting conversation for sure.”

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Stacy Rost on Twitter.

Stacy’s Seahawks free-agent profiles: DL | OLWR, OT | TE, LB | RB

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Should Seahawks pursue Yannick Ngakoue if Clowney doesn’t re-sign?