JACKSONVILLE – David Caldwell has said little about Yannick Ngakoue lately.
That changed late Thursday night/early Friday morning, with the Jaguars' general manager saying a lot about the veteran defensive end and saying it clearly.
"I think his options are very limited at this point in time," Caldwell said.
Ngakoue, the Jaguars' veteran defensive end, had been vocal on social media since the team placed the NFL's franchise tag on him last month. The move limited Ngakoue's options in unrestricted free agency, and he has made clear a desire to be traded. He and Jaguars co-owner Tony Khan had a well-documented Twitter exchange about the issue early this week.
"I try not to comment too much on the situation; I try to be very pragmatic about it," Caldwell said following Round 1. "Truth be told, we exercised the franchise tender. We weren't able to get a trade. We actually weren't even really able to get an offer."
The Jaguars placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Ngakoue, meaning another team would have to give the Jaguars two first-round selections for signing him. If Ngakoue opts not to sign the franchise tender, he would not play this season.
If he signs the tender offer, he would play for the Jaguars on a guaranteed, one-year contract.
"We'll welcome him back with open arms when he's ready to come back, and we look forward to it," Caldwell said. "Yann is a tremendous player, a tremendous person. He has always been first class in everything he's done here in the locker room and through his time here – the first four years of his contract.
"Obviously, he feels like things have not gone the way he wanted – and in some aspect he may have a point."
Caldwell emphasized on the call that the Jaguars "put our best foot forward" in terms of a contract offer "not once, but twice."
"I hope he sees the light that Jacksonville is a good spot and could at the end of the day be his only option," Caldwell said.
The Jaguars' first two selections in the 2020 NFL Draft – Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson (No. 9 overall) and Louisiana State defensive end/linebacker L'Kavon Chaisson (No. 20) – have close ties with two of the Jaguars' young core players. Henderson is close with Jaguars second-year right tackle Jawaan Taylor from their time at Florida and Chaisson knows Jaguars third-year receiver DJ Chark Jr. from their time at LSU. That wasn't the reason the Jaguars selected the players, but it gave Head Coach Doug Marrone a comfort level with the selections. "That was a big thing for me," Marrone said. "There are players in our locker room that know these players, and that's important for me to get a sense of, 'Hey, are these guys going to fit? Are they what we're looking for? Do they understand the challenges we have as a team? How are they going to be there?' I was very comfortable with that."
With the Jaguars selecting defensive players with both Round 1 selections, Caldwell was asked if he felt pressure to select offensive players in Round 2 and 3 Friday. "I don't feel like there is pressure to do so," Caldwell said. "We do feel like [quarterback] Gardner [Minshew] does have weapons. We do have one Pro Bowl receiver (Chark). We have a former Pro Bowl tight end that we acquired (Tyler Eifert). We have a young tight end (Josh Oliver) that's going into his second year that we think has a high ceiling. We did have a running back (Leonard Fournette) that was sixth in the league in yards from scrimmage last year, and we have a really good slot receiver (Dede Westbrook) and two other receivers in Keelan Cole and Chris Conley on the other side. From a skill position [standpoint], we're better than what we had when we went to the AFC Championship Game in 2017, if you look at what we were playing with at that point in time."
Caldwell said one of Chaisson's strengths is his versatility – and that he not only can play the run and pass but play well in coverage. "This is a guy who's really multifaceted," Caldwell said. "We can play in some 3-4 looks, obviously, with Josh Allen and him – and offer a bunch of versatility with those two guys and Yannick."
Caldwell said the Jaguars liked some wide receivers at No. 9, and that they might have considered the position there if Henderson hadn't been available. He also said the only offensive tackle the team would have considered at No. 9 had been selected, with Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas having been selected at No. 4 overall to the New York Giants. "We just followed our board and followed the best player we felt was available – and a position of need," Caldwell said. "We've heard for the last year that this is the deepest receiver class and we know there will be receivers all across the board as the draft goes on."
Caldwell on reports of Henderson's tackling ability: "As far as his tackling goes, it was good at the college level. Obviously, those guys have room to grow. His coverage ability far outweighed any issues he may or may not have as a tackler."