The Baltimore Ravens have done it again. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Baltimore sent a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings for former Pro Bowl defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Minnesota acquired Ngakoue from Jacksonville in August.
Vikings and Ravens finalizing a trade to send DE Yannick Ngakoue to Baltimore for a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick, sources tell ESPN.
Vikings initially sent 2021 second-round pick and 2022 conditional fifth-round pick to Jags. Now get most back.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 22, 2020
The sudden trade comes as a surprise. Minnesota sent a 2021 second-round pick and 2022 conditional fifth-rounder to Jacksonville earlier this year. The Vikings intended to pair Ngakoue with Danielle Hunter and form one of the best pass rushing duos in the NFL. However, the plan quickly fell apart, and the Vikings are sitting at 1-5.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Hunter is having season-ending neck surgery for a herniated disc. Rapoport also made headlines by implying that Hunter wants a new contract, one that would put him among the game’s highest-paid defensive players. The former Second-Team All-Pro is under contract through 2023 and makes the 15th-most money annually among defensive ends.
#Vikings star Danielle Hunter is having surgery to clean up a herniated disc, knocking him out for 2020, per me & @TomPelissero. MIN has a decision this offseason: Make Hunter the highest-paid defender in football or trade him. Have we seen the last of him in a Vikings uniform👀
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 22, 2020
With Hunter’s season over, the Vikings decided to cut their losses and get as much back for Ngakoue as possible. Overall, Minnesota lost very little draft capital, but the Ravens emerge as winners before the trade deadline yet again. Over the past year, Baltimore also acquired Calais Campbell and Marcus Peters in trades.
In his six games with Minnesota, Ngakoue recorded five sacks and two forced fumbles. At this pace, Ngakoue will finish 2020 with 13 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, 29 pressures, and five forced fumbles. Those numbers would mark a significant improvement from Ngakoue’s disappointing 2019 season.
Despite their incredible talent, the Ravens haven’t produced a consistent pass rush this year. Campbell currently leads Baltimore with four sacks, but three of those came in one game. Pro Bowl outside linebacker Matt Judon only has two sacks. Ngakoue breathes new life into the defensive front as he reunites with Campbell.
Campbell and Ngakoue played alongside each other in Jacksonville for the past three years. The two former Pro Bowlers combined for 61 sacks, 148 quarterback hits, 16 forced fumbles, and four touchdowns during that time. Campbell seemed pretty happy to have his former running mate back,
“Dope man. That’s crazy. I know he’s [Ngakoue] pretty ecstatic. I’m surprised he didn’t blow my phone up.”
The Ravens and General Manager Eric DeCosta have dominated the trade game over the past several seasons. Baltimore acquired Campbell, Ngakoue, and Peters for Kenny Young, a 2021 third-round pick, and three fifth-round selections. There isn’t a front office with better trades in recent history.
The Ngakoue addition puts the 5-1 Ravens squarely in the race for the top seed in the AFC. Baltimore is currently entering its bye week and returns to play the 5-0 Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8.