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With Jets needing pass-rush help, Clowney, Ngakoue acquisitions unlikely

Yannick Ngakoue (Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)

While the NFL continues to slog through sports’ coronavirus freeze, the New York Jets have continued to come up short in addressing one of their largest needs — the pass rush. 

A legitimate sack artist has eluded the Jets’ grasp for years now as they haven’t recorded 40 or more quarterback takedowns since 2014. 

Heading into this offseason, the consensus was that general manager Joe Douglas would make a splash to address the issue. 

That hasn’t happened yet. 

There was some reason for hope for Jets fans, however, when it was reported by ESPN’s Rich Cimini that Douglas had checked in on both Jadeveon Clowney and Yannick Ngakoue — two of the largest pass-rushing names available this spring. 

Clowney had a down season after joining the Seattle Seahawks, posting three sacks in 13 games. He posted a combined 18.5 in the two seasons prior with the Houston Texans. 

Still, he was initially looking for a deal that paid him $20 million per year before lowering those demands to $17 million annually. 

As for Ngakoue, he’s been far more consistent over four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, averaging just under 9.5 sacks per season. 

But the Jaguars opted to exercise the franchise tag on him last month, meaning the Jets would have to trade for him if they truly wanted him. That would mean giving up at least a first-round pick while trying to re-sign the 25-year-old to a long-term deal. 

Needless to say, it didn’t do much to pique the Jets’ interest any further, as the Jets are reportedly trying to take “a thrifty approach,” per Cimini.

That’s with an estimated $34 million remaining in cap space, amongst the highest among NFL teams right now. 

“The more likely scenario is the Jets attacking the problem the old-fashioned way, by developing what they have and hunting for a contributor in the draft,” Cimini wrote.

After Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young — who is expected to go No. 2 to the Washington Redskins — the pass-rushing class for the Jets at No. 11 leaves plenty to be desired. It’s why many are projecting them to draft either an offensive lineman or wide receiver with their first-round pick. 

As for what they currently have on their roster, only three Jets last season had more than 2.5 sacks last year. None of them were defensive linemen. 

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