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How much Jaguars Yannick Ngakoue will command if he hits free agency

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Tuesday Field Gulls own Alistair Corp took a look at what Dante Fowler could do for the Seattle Seahawks, who have not kept it a secret that they are looking to improve their pass rush during the offseason. The big question for the Hawks, obviously, will be whether they are able to retain the services of Jadeveon Clowney, who stands to command a lot himself, but should Clowney leave for greener pastures, the team will certainly be looking for a replacement.

There have, of course, been various names bandied about regarding who the team could sign to replace Clowney, with Fowler being one of the oft-mentioned names. In addition, the names that have been tossed out include Yannick Ngakoue, Vic Beasley, Robert Quinn, Michael Bennett and a host of others. However, one of the key points on players like Ngakoue, Beasley and Clowney that could push their price too high for the Seahawks is their age, as none of them have yet to reach their prime years. The prime years for the majority of positions, including pass rushers, are the mid to late twenties, and that is part of what is so enticing about Fowler, who will turn 26 in August, and Ngakoue, who will only turn 25 at the end of March.

When teams get to bidding against each other in free agency for the services of a particular player, they obviously aren’t bidding on what that player has done, they are bidding on that player’s potential for the coming seasons. This is a topic that can be explained ad nauseum, but the easiest way to explain it is to lay it out with the data. Here is a look at the number of seasons by front seven defenders across the NFL with nine or more and six or more sacks by age since sacks became an official stat in 1982.

Sack production by age in the NFL since 1982

Age Seasons with 9+ Sacks Seasons with 6+ Sacks
Age Seasons with 9+ Sacks Seasons with 6+ Sacks
20 0 0
21 4 9
22 30 63
23 54 168
24 92 214
25 104 242
26 101 236
27 108 239
28 108 234
29 89 205
30 71 166
31 55 118
32 33 90
33 23 64
34 16 40
35 10 27
36 6 14
37 6 10
38 0 1
39 1 1
40 0 0

One of the things that jumps out from that table almost instantly is that only nine players over the past 38 seasons have had six or more sacks in their age 21 season, and Ngakoue is one of those. His production for his age is extremely impressive. Since sacks became an official stat in 1982, only 17 players have recorded 30 or more sacks before turning 25, and Ngakoue is not just one of them, he’s in the top ten. As a result of that production, he is reportedly looking for a significant contract.

At first $22M per year may seem like quite a lot for a player with just a single Pro Bowl on his resume, but let’s take a look at some of the other players whose production is similar through the same age.

In short, Ngakoue is going to get paid. A lot. If he’s allowed to reach free agency by the Jaguars, then the $22M number he’s looking for is probably lower than where he ends up, simply because teams will go all in bidding for him. He is just about to enter his prime, and is still young enough that there is still room for his numbers to improve. Getting back to the production by age data table from above, he’s just about to enter what may well be his peak seasons.

Thus, while there will certainly be a market for the older pass rushers who are available, like Bennett, Quinn and Everson Griffen, the big money will be going to younger players, who teams will be signing with hopes of seeing peak performance in the prime of their careers play out on the field.