The Cleveland Browns have been named a potential suitor for Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, but would a hefty trade make sense for the Browns?
The Cleveland Browns and general manager Andrew Berry have been busy this offseason, making several moves in free agency. They have also been connected to some big names, including free agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. But they have also been recently connected with Yannick Ngakoue.
Ngakoue was set to be a free agent this offseason, but the Jacksonville Jaguars placed the franchise tag on Ngakoue, keeping him in Jacksonville for at least one more season, unless he is traded. Ngakoue has made it publicly known he wants a trade and his time in Jacksonville is over.
However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter stated Wednesday in an interview with 97.5 The Fanatic that the Jaguars do not want to trade Ngakoue. Schefter did say that if Jacksonville decided to move Ngakoue, the Cleveland Browns could be a potential suitor for the 25-year-old defensive end.
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Schefter noted that the Browns are one of the teams looking at potential help at defensive end this offseason, so they could decide to poke around the Ngakoue market. The cost for Ngakoue, however, does not make sense for the Browns.
The Jaguars are seeking a “first-round pick and more” for Ngakoue, according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan. Not only will it cost draft assets to add Ngakoue, but Ngakoue is also seeking a new contract that will make him one of the highest paid defensive players in the NFL.
In the case of the Browns, it would take too many assets to add Ngakoue to the Browns roster. Although his cap hit for 2020 could be practically offset by the Browns cutting Olivier Vernon and his $15.5 million salary, Ngakoue’s long-term deal could create issues for the Browns attempting to sign some of their young players to extensions, including Baker Mayfield and Myles Garrett.
Ngakoue’s situation could be compared to Dee Ford and Frank Clark last offseason. Both players were given the franchise tag and traded, then signing new deals with their new teams. Clark and Ford are also relatively the same age as Ngakoue. So both situations give a solid precedent for the potential cost of a trade for Ngakoue and what an extension may look like.
Clark was traded for a first round pick in last year’s draft and a second-round pick in the 2020 draft. The Chiefs and Seahawks also exchanged third-round picks in last year’s draft. Following the trade, Clark signed a five-year, $104 million extension with Kansas City.
Ford was traded for a second-round pick in last year’s draft. He then signed a five-year, $85.5 million extension with San Francisco.
At the time of being franchise tagged, Ngakoue has produced more in his career than both Clark and Ford. Therefore, an extension for Ngakoue would be more expensive than both Clark and Ford, but it would likely be similar to Clark’s deal.
In the case of the Browns, moving those types of draft assets and signing Ngakoue to that type of deal is not what the Browns need at this point. There are still holes across the entire roster, mostly on the defensive side of the ball, so the Browns still need as many top draft assets as possible to fill holes on the roster. Trading a first-round pick would also hurt Cleveland’s chances of landing their left tackle of the future in the 2020 NFL Draft.
For what it will take to land Ngakoue, the Browns do not make sense as a suitor. The Browns could still pursue Clowney if they want to improve at defensive end, and it would take less assets to land Clowney than Ngakoue. Although signing Clowney to a deal would also tighten Cleveland’s cap space for potential extensions in the future, not losing draft assets to sign him puts the Browns in a better situation.
Cleveland could ultimately decide that adding either Clowney or Ngakoue would be too much of a cost. However, Cleveland is not in a strong enough position to make a trade for Ngakoue and then signing him to an extension.