Several NFL teams held their mandatory minicamp, generally the concluding event of spring offseason work, last week.
But some are holding theirs this week, and so far three players who are in contract disputes with their respective teams won’t be taking part.
Pass rushers Jadeveon Clowney of the Houston Texans, Yannick Ngakoue of the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould are all expected to miss the mandatory camps.
Ngakoue: ‘I remain committed to Jacksonville’
Ngakoue’s situation is a bit different than that of Clowney and Gould in that he still has one year remaining on his four-year rookie contract; Clowney and Gould have been tagged as the franchise player by their respective franchises.
“I will not be attending minicamp as my contract has not been resolved,” Ngakoue said in a statement. “I remain committed to Jacksonville, the fans and my teammates. My hope is to be with Jacksonville for years to come.”
The 24-year-old was a third-round draft pick in 2016 and has played in every game the last three years for Jacksonville. Because of the proven performance bonuses available to players drafted in the third through seventh rounds, Ngakoue’s salary for 2019 is set to be a shade over $2 million.
But he’s one of the best young pass rushers in the NFL and is woefully underpaid relative to his peers.
Last year, Ngakoue was third in the NFL with 33 quarterback hits, to go along with 9.5 sacks; in 2017, the season he was named to the Pro Bowl, he totaled 12 sacks and 23 quarterback hits.
Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox, who had very similar numbers — 10.5 sacks and 34 QB hits in 2018 — signed a six-year, $102.6 million extension with $36.3 million fully guaranteed three years ago this week.
Teammate Jalen Ramsey is stumping for Ngakoue, posting to Instagram, “Ready to see my brudda get what he has earned!! Pay him!!” and tagging the Jaguars.
Ngakoue did take part in voluntary OTA workouts, but has now apparently decided to use the only leverage he has to try to get what he’s earned.
What happens with Clowney negotiations?
The No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, the Texans tagged Clowney earlier this year; the 2019 franchise amount for defensive ends is $17.128 million.
But with the Texans stunning the NFL world on Friday when they fired general manager Brian Gaine, one has to wonder whether they’ll be able to get a long-term contract in place with Clowney before the NFL-mandated July 15 deadline.
(If there isn’t a new deal in place before that date, Clowney’s options are to play the full season under the tag and hope he doesn’t get hurt; sit out the first 10 games and play in six to get the accrued season but lower the chances of an injury; or take the Le’Veon Bell route and sit out the year.)
In recent years, salaries for pass rushers have skyrocketed, and by average defensive end is the second-highest paid position in the league behind QBs.
Clowney, who totaled 18.5 sacks and 37 quarterback hits over the last two seasons and has been a Pro Bowler for each of the last three, did not take part in voluntary OTAs either.
Gould wants out of San Francisco
Gould, the veteran who has spent the last two seasons with the 49ers, has taken a hard-line stance with the team, requesting a trade in April and pulling his contract proposals. He has said he won’t sign a long-term deal with the club.
The 36-year-old spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Chicago Bears before the Bears surprisingly cut Gould before the 2016 season. He spent 10 games that year with the New York Giants and the last two with the Niners.
During that time, Gould’s wife and three young sons have remained in Chicago. Being with them and doing what’s best for his family is something he cited in announcing his trade request.
Gould has been stellar in two years with San Francisco, converting 72-of-75 field goals and 55-of-59 extra points.
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