The Jacksonville Jaguars' standoff with star pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue continues with no clear and obvious end in sight.
For a brief moment, it appeared Jacksonville was poised to send Ngakoue to the Philadelphia Eagles, but that buzz has since faded as the Jaguars stand firm on their asking price.
A first-round pick and more is currently what Jacksonville expects to get as a return, according to ESPN's Jordan Raanan. If that's the case, the Jaguars should consider themselves on the clock. If this deal doesn't materialize quickly, they are going to find themselves falling into the same trap that claimed a fellow AFC South team just one year ago.
The Houston Texans were burned by Jadeveon Clowney last summer when they stubbornly held firm on their asking price. The 2019 draft came and went, Clowney remained on an unsigned franchise tag and the Texans' leverage evaporated into thin air.
By August, Clowney was flexing his leverage and axed a potential trade to the Miami Dolphins — all because he hadn't signed his tender, which ultimately forced the Texans to whittle their potential trade partners to teams that only suited Clowney. Houston eventually found a trade, but the most notable piece of its return was a 2020 third-round pick.
If Jacksonville wants to avoid a similar fate, a team will need to become desperate in the build up to the draft and meet its price. If Ngakoue remains on the roster in May, the Jaguars are going to be facing a long and difficult process to gather anything remotely close to their current asking price.
Ngakoue, to his credit, has xeroxed Clowney's play in the disgruntled franchise tag role. By not signing the tender, Ngakoue is doing what he can to funnel his potential destinations. But even then, the possible teams that would consider stepping up and offering a first-round pick (plus anything else) look pretty slim.
Jacksonville isn't likely to get a top-20 pick for Ngakoue and there's only a handful of logical destinations that pick between Nos. 21 and 32. The Eagles are the most likely candidate, but will they offer up the 21st-overall pick to land Ngakoue? Especially with their dire needs at linebacker and wide receiver. Who else makes sense in that window?
The Minnesota Vikings have two picks in the mid-20s but their need at defensive end is, like Philadelphia, far surpassed by needs of other positions like cornerback and wide receiver. The Miami Dolphins boasted one of the NFL's worst pass rush rooms in 2019 and owns the 26th pick, but they have aggressively front-loaded their 2020 salary cap to accommodate as much cap flexibility in the future as possible. Miami's current cap situation seems to indicate it has no plans on picking up Ngakoue's hefty tab.
For Jacksonville, it may be best to soften its stance a bit. Opening negotiations to an early second-round pick and another mid-round selection provides more flexibility and at the end of the day is a much greater return than what Houston ended up bringing home for Clowney.
Considering how up close and personal Jacksonville is with Houston, it's hard to imagine the Jaguars would let themselves fall victim to the same fate. To avoid doing exactly that, the urgency in finding a deal is going to have to be turned up in the coming weeks.