Imagining five 2020 NFL player trades that help both teams – Why Yannick Ngakoue to Cleveland fills a hole



Why Yannick Ngakoue needs a trade more than any other NFL player (0:48)

Field Yates explains why the Jaguars need to find a trade partner for DE Yannick Ngakoue and the challenges Jacksonville faces in pulling off a deal. (0:48)

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  • Field YatesESPN Insider

      Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston’s Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

We’ve reached the point of the 2020 NFL offseason — one unlike any other — in which most player acquisitions are behind us. There are still free agents who will eventually sign with teams, led by Cam Newton and Jadeveon Clowney, but the majority of roster reconstruction is finished. For the most part, teams are focused on the development of the players they have. They are trying to evaluate and ready players for the season while navigating the global circumstances we are collectively facing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Trades aren’t particularly common in the NFL relative to other major North American sports leagues, but when tasked with finding potential trades based on player-for-player concepts, it got me thinking. What are some moves that work well for both sides?

Here are five deals that are sensible when factoring in many aspects, while acknowledging that they are all unlikely to take place. But if they were to happen, they are win-win options for both teams.

Jacksonville Jaguars trade DE Yannick Ngakoue to Cleveland Browns for TE David Njoku and a 2021 second-round pick

Why the Jaguars do it: My sense is that Jaguars fans would balk at such a move, as they seek a far more lucrative return for the 25-year-old pass-rusher, but let’s start by examining why making a trade for Ngakoue is difficult. He’s playing under the franchise tag, meaning the team inheriting Ngakoue is committing twice to him: once in trade compensation and then again financially, the latter likely to be more significant than the former ($20 million annually is a logical starting point).

Under this scenario, Jacksonville acquires an athletic middle-of-the-field target who has the ability to have a Jordan Reed-like impact in new coordinator Jay Gruden’s offense, which currently features Tyler Eifert (on a two-year deal that has a team option after this season) and 2019 draft pick Josh Oliver as the primary tight end targets. Njoku is under contract through 2021 for a shade under $8 million total. That’s an excellent value if he realizes the immense potential he flashed before the 2017 NFL draft. Plus, Jacksonville’s 2021 draft haul would now include an extra first- and second-round pick.

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