Yannick Ngakoue: “Fresh start” worth massive pay cut

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Yannick Ngakoue took a nearly $6 million pay cut to get out of Jacksonville.

And he said Friday it’s worth every penny.

Via Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com, the new Vikings defensive end said he was grateful to have been traded, regardless the financial implications.

Money was never my drive coming into this business,” Ngakoue said. “It has never been my drive. I’ve always wanted to be a great-caliber guy, great-quality guy, on and off the field. I just needed a fresh start, and Minnesota was [the team] that gave me the opportunity to continue to live out my dream. I’m appreciative and excited.”

He’d have made $17.778 million on the franchise tag for the Jaguars, but refused to sign it, forcing their hand. The Vikings gave a second-round pick to acquire him, and then agreed to pay him $12 million this season.

“After not retaining a long-term deal with Jacksonville, I kind of felt a little disheartened about it,” Ngakoue said. “But at the end of the day, it’s business. I’m still thankful and appreciative they gave me an opportunity to have my dream for four years. It’s always going to be love for Jacksonville, but I felt like, and my family as well, we felt like it was best for me to be able to move forward to a new place, new organization and just get a fresh start.”

He practiced for the first time Thursday, and doesn’t have long to get acclimated to his new team before the start of the regular season. Or to ponder what it cost him to find a new address.