Evan Engram

NFC East Notes: Giants, Gregory, Fitzpatrick

Jabrill Peppers‘ torn ACL will keep him sidelined for the rest of the 2021 campaign, and considering his expiring contract, there’s a chance his stint with the Giants has effectively come to an end. However, head coach Joe Judge kept the door open when speaking with reporters on Wednesday.

“Look, this guy is in a contract year, it’s something I’ve talked to him about directly,” Judge said (h/t to Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com). “He’s a guy that I value a lot in this program. I’d love to have this guy going forward, I’ve told him that directly. He’s been a very good leader for us. You can talk about him being local, that the Giants mean something to him. I think that’s very important. He’s a guy that loves football, he loves this organization, he loves this area. Those are things we talk about building as cornerstones and pillars of this program and he’s a very important part of our program.”

The safety started five of his six games this season, compiling 29 tackles and one sack. Considering Peppers’ contract status, his reduced playing time, and continued trade rumblings, there was a chance the veteran would be traded prior to his injury. The ACL injury certainly changed things, and Peppers could pursue a comeback with his current team.

More notes out of the NFC East…

  • With the Giants sitting at 2-5, it wouldn’t be a surprise if several Giants veterans end up hitting the trade block. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv explored which players could be on the move, with tight end Evan Engram, cornerback James Bradberry, guard Will Hernandez, tight end Kyle Rudolph, and offensive tackle Nate Solder earning spots on the list. Vacchiano even goes as far as to list running back Saquon Barkley as a potential trade candidate, but he can’t envision the Giants receiving a haul that would convince them to bail on the former second-overall pick.
  • Randy Gregory has dealt with his fair share of suspensions, but the former Cowboys second-round pick followed an impressive 2020 campaign with an even better start to the 2021 season. In five games (four starts), Gregory has collected four sacks. The 28-year-old will hit free agency following the 2021 season, but David Moore, Calvin Watkins, and Michael Gehlken of The Dallas Morning News all believe that the defensive end will be back next season. Moore notes that the team wouldn’t have held on to Gregory for all these years if they didn’t plan on a long-term pact, while Watkins cautions that the franchise tag could prove to be a risky move considering Gregory’s limited track record.
  • There was once some hope that Ryan Fitzpatrick would be back by now, but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport writes that Washington Football Team will have to wait a bit longer. The 38-year-old is still weeks away from returning, with Week 10 being the earliest possible return for the starting quarterback. Fitzpatrick suffered a hip subluxation back in September, forcing Taylor Heinicke into the lineup.

Giants’ Evan Engram Drawing Trade Interest

One of the few Jerry Reese-era additions still on the Giants, Evan Engram is in a contract year. With the Giants in a position to be sellers ahead of another trade deadline, Engram’s name has come up around the league.

Multiple teams are interested in the fifth-year Giants tight end, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano (ESPN+ link). Engram’s sluggish start to the season notwithstanding, certain teams remain intrigued by the former first-round pick’s skill set.

After missing two games to start the season, Engram has totaled just 171 receiving yards on 20 catches. Although we are less than halfway through the season, Engram’s 8.6-yard average checks in far below his previous career-low mark. Ahead of the Nov. 2 trade deadline, the Giants will be faced with a decision.

New York is deep at wide receiver, though the team is currently dealing with a number of injuries at that spot, but does not have a long-term tight end. No extension talks are known to have taken place this year; Engram was eyeing a bounce-back season to generate a strong 2022 free agency market. The Giants also rejected Engram overtures before last year’s trade deadline. Big Blue has traded several pieces from the Reese era in recent years. In addition to the offseason moves that sent away Jason Pierre-Paul, Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon, the Giants dealt Eli Apple and Damon Harrison before the 2018 deadline.

Engram, 27, is playing on a manageable fifth-year option salary that contains a balance of less than $4MM. He was a somewhat surprising Pro Bowl selection last year, after hauling in 63 passes for 654 yards and a touchdown. But the former Ole Miss standout has not quite lived up to his first-round pedigree during his Big Apple stay.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

New York Notes: Darnold, Giants, Sanders

Before the legal tampering period kicked off, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com said it was more likely than not that the Jets would trade Sam Darnold, assuming that BYU QB Zach Wilson — whom the Jets would select with the No. 2 overall pick to replace Darnold — “checks the important boxes during the pre-draft process.” Cimini said at the time that there was a market for Darnold, and he named Washington, the Bears, the Seahawks, the Texans, and the 49ers as potential landing spots.

But since then, WFT signed Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chicago acquired Andy Dalton. Obviously, neither of those QBs are long-term answers, but they do at least obviate an immediate need for a signal-caller. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are moving forward with Russell Wilson, Houston may be unable to trade incumbent QB Deshaun Watson in light of the sexual abuse allegations that have been levied against him, and it’s unclear how actively San Francisco is pursuing an upgrade over Jimmy Garoppolo. As such, the Jets might not be able to trade Darnold, and it will be interesting to see if that will impact the team’s decision with respect to Zach Wilson (or any other rookie passer).

Now for more out of the Empire State:

  • In less exciting Jets news, the team is still looking into free agent kickers and wants to find a starting-caliber corner, as Cimini writes. The CB need will probably be filled in the draft; Cimini does not expect the club to pursue Richard Sherman, despite the obvious Sherman-Robert Saleh connection.
  • It might go without saying, but when the Giants agreed to a three-year, $63MM pact with DL Leonard Williams a few days ago, Williams agreed to drop his grievance concerning his 2020 franchise tag, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Williams was tagged as a defensive tackle but believed he should have received a defensive end tag, and if he had prevailed, his tag number for 2021 would have jumped to $21.4MM. Since he got a $21MM AAV on his extension, things worked out just fine for him in the end.
  • Per Dan Duggan of The Athletic, Williams — who is clearly not afraid to bet on himself — pushed for a shorter contract so that he can hit the open market again before he turns 30. Duggan says the Giants have explored restructures for 2020 signees James Bradberry and Blake Martinez, something the club may need to really push for now that it has agreed to a big-money deal for WR Kenny Golladay.
  • The Giants signed veteran TE Kyle Rudolph earlier this week, but his addition does not impact Evan Engram‘s status with the team, a source tells Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. Engram will play out the 2021 season on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal and hopes for a strong platform performance after struggling a bit in 2020.
  • These days, instead of being forced to reach out to agents to convince their clients to play in western New York, agents are the ones calling the Bills, as Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News writes. Head coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane have created a winning club and a positive culture, and players around the league are taking notice and now see Buffalo as an attractive destination. While the Bills didn’t have a ton of cap space heading into this year’s free agent cycle — or many major holes to fill — they did bring in WR Emmanuel Sanders, whom they had targeted for several years. Sanders is a prime example of the changing feelings towards Buffalo, saying “[w]ho wouldn’t want to be part of it?” (via John Wawrow of the Associated Press).

Packers Tried To Trade For DT Dalvin Tomlinson

The Packers may have been trying to pry wide receiver Will Fuller from the Texans in advance of the trade deadline, and they were also looking to bolster their defense. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), Green Bay offered a mid-round pick to the Giants in exchange for defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson.

New York, though, declined the offer, even though Tomlinson is playing out the final year of his rookie contract and despite the fact that the two sides have not made much progress in contract talks. As Dan Duggan of The Athletic observes, head coach Joe Judge did not want to trade “foundational pieces,” and he clearly sees Tomlinson as a key part of the team’s future (Twitter link). Duggan says the club also rejected overtures for tight end Evan Engram, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that Big Blue was not going to deal Engram for anything less than a first-round pick.

The decision to keep Tomlinson makes plenty of sense. The Giants selected him in the second round of the 2017 draft, and unless they were convinced they would be unable to re-sign him, dealing a young, talented interior defender for a mid-round selection wouldn’t necessarily have aided in the club’s rebuilding process.

You can’t fault Green Bay for making a play for Tomlinson, though. The Packers are gearing up for a playoff push, but their run defense is among the worst in the NFL, and the 26-year-old Alabama product would have gone a long way towards solidifying their defensive front. Pro Football Focus currently ranks Tomlinson as the 14th-best interior defender in the league, and though he has just one sack this year, his pass rushing grade is almost as high as his run defense score.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Giants, Ryan, Fuller

After dealing Markus Golden to the Cardinals, it appears the 1-6 Giants have officially declared themselves sellers at this year’s trade deadline. Though GM Dave Gettleman may be reluctant to trade away veteran talent that could theoretically help Big Blue win a few games — and perhaps save Gettleman’s job in the process — players like Evan Engram, Kevin Zeitler, and Golden Tate could be available, as Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes (though Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says the club is unlikely to deal Engram).

2017 second-round DT Dalvin Tomlinson could also be on the move, per Dunleavy. Tomlinson is playing out the last year of his rookie contract, and while he has expressed interest in staying with the Giants long-term, there has been little progress in contract talks.

As we creep closer to the November 3 deadline, let’s round up a few more trade rumors from around the league:

East Notes: Newton, Williams, Giants

Most of Cam Newton‘s 2020 earning potential will be through incentives. As for base salary, the Patriots landed a former MVP for the league minimum. Newton will earn just $1.05MM in 2020 base salary, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports (on Twitter). The Pats entered the week with the least cap space in the NFL. New England guaranteed Newton just $550K, which is notable given the veteran passer’s injury issues in recent years. Newton underwent foot surgery in December and has rehabbed that Lisfranc issue for several months. The 31-year-old standout can collect $6.45MM through incentives and pre-game roster bonuses, La Canfora adds. The contract does not prevent the Pats from franchise-tagging Newton next year.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • The Giants and Leonard Williams discussed a new deal late last season and before the March franchise tag deadline, but the sides were not especially close on terms. Now franchise-tagged at $16.1MM, Williams wants a deal that will pay him between $18-$20MM per year, SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano notes. The Giants did not want to go there. Although Dave Gettleman traded for Williams in a contract year, Vacchiano adds the ex-Jet may have less support among Giants brass. While Williams is a former top-10 pick, he has 17.5 sacks in five seasons — including a half-sack last year. That sack total ranks 84th since 2015, though the interior defender’s 101 QB hits rank 12th in that span. This massive gap, along with the tag, creates an interesting negotiation.
  • Evan Engram may have missed Giants team activities in a normal offseason; the fourth-year tight end underwent foot surgery late last year. But New York’s top tight end recently posted a video featuring him running and cutting, via the New York Post. While Engram is far from a safe bet, given his injury propensity as a pro, this represents a good sign for a Giants team that did not use its top skill-position configuration — Engram-Saquon BarkleySterling ShepardGolden TateDarius Slayton — once last season.
  • Despite the Patriots waiting until late June to add their likely starting quarterback, their QB situation now looks better than the Redskins‘. Ron Rivera discussed a Newton deal earlier this offseason but said this week the fit was not right in Washington. “If the circumstances had allowed us, I would not have had an issue with that,” Rivera said during an interview with 670 The Score (via NBC Sports Washington). “I would’ve been very confident and comfortable going after him and bringing him to be part of what we’re doing here.” The Redskins are set to enter training camp with Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen as their top healthy QBs, though Alex Smith remains on the roster.

Giants Pick Up 2021 Options For Evan Engram, Jabrill Peppers

The Giants will extend the contracts of 2017 first-rounders Evan Engram and Jabrill Peppers through the 2021 season, the team announced.

This marks the final year fifth-year options will be guaranteed for injury only. Beginning in 2018, teams must fully guarantee players fifth-year salaries if they pick up options. The injury component will be key for Engram.

The fourth-year tight end is coming off a second straight injury-marred season. Engram underwent foot surgery in December. While the Giants would obviously prefer he stay healthy and earn the 2021 salary coming to him, they would only be able to cut Engram free of charge if he can pass a physical by the start of the ’21 league year. Engram has missed 13 games between the 2018-19 seasons.

Engram, however, has given Eli Manning and Daniel Jones an intriguing weapon when healthy. He averaged a career-high 58.4 yards per game last season but only played in eight contests. Engram’s 722 yards as a rookie were the most of any rookie tight end during the 2010s.

Drafted two spots after Engram three years ago — at No. 25 overall — Peppers came over in last year’s Odell Beckham Jr. trade. The former Browns draftee started 11 Giants games last season before suffering a transverse process fracture in his back. Pro Football Focus graded the Michigan product as a middle-of-the-pack safety in 2019. Peppers registered 76 tackles, which were only three shy of his career-high figure despite an injury-shortened season, and intercepted one pass — which he took back for a touchdown.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Evan Engram To Undergo Foot Surgery

After a promising start to the season, Evan Engram is on IR after missing most of the second half of this Giants campaign. He may miss a sizable chunk of Big Blue’s offseason program too.

Engram will undergo foot surgery Friday, according to the team. The former first-round pick said he expects to be ready by training camp. This would appear to put the rest of the tight end’s offseason availability in question.

The third-year starter described his injury as not being a full Lisfranc setback but indicated the damaged ligament has not healed properly. The injury occurred during the Giants’ rematch with the Cowboys on Nov. 4. Engram finished the season with 44 catches for 467 yards and three touchdowns. Engram has missed 13 games over the past two seasons.

The offseason availability of Engram and other Giants may be more important in 2020 than it was this year. Pat Shurmur is a candidate to be fired, with the Giants now 8-22 under his watch. If that happens, the Giants will have a new offensive system to install during the offseason program.

Engram will be going through the rehab process when the Giants must decide on his fifth-year option. While the Giants should be expected to pick up what will be an affordable 2021 option, Engram will have to shed an “injury-prone” label as he pursues a major extension.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Place Evan Engram On IR

Evan Engram‘s season is officially over. The Giants are placing the talented young tight end on injured reserve with a couple of games left in the year, the team announced Tuesday.

To take his place on the active roster, they promoted receiver David Sills from the practice squad. Engram hadn’t played since a November 4th game against the Cowboys, but New York had been holding out hope for a late-season comeback. Engram is dealing with a foot sprain and got a second opinion on the injury about a month ago. He’ll finish his third season as a pro with 44 catches for 467 yards and three touchdowns across eight games.

A first-round pick out of Ole Miss back in 2017, the Giants will have to decide on his fifth-year option this offseason. Given his production when healthy, it seems like a no-brainer that they’ll pick it up. Engram missed five games due to injury last year, but has been one of the league’s better tight ends when available. As a rookie he had 722 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games, great numbers for a first-year tight end.

The Giants have obviously been having a disappointing season, with plenty of injuries on offense. The 23rd overall pick in 2017, Engram turned 25 in September. Sills is a rookie UDFA from West Virginia who originally signed with the Bills. After Buffalo waived him at final cuts, he latched on with New York’s practice squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants QB Daniel Jones Ruled Out, Eli Manning To Start

The Giants announced this morning that starting quarterback Daniel Jones has been ruled out for Monday’s game against the Eagles. This means Eli Manning will get the start for New York.

We heard rumblings earlier this week that Manning could get the start for the Giants. Jones was continuing to recover from a mild high-ankle sprain, and the injury was expected to knock the rookie out of the lineup.

So in comes Manning, who will get his (presumable) farewell tour with the organization. It was clear that the 38-year-old’s time with the organization was coming to an end when they selected Jones with the sixth-overall pick in this past year’s draft. The veteran got a pair of starts for the Giants before giving way to the 22-year-old, who has started the last 10 games.

Manning hasn’t seen the field since that Week 2 start against the Bills. Up to that point of the season, Manning had completed 62.9% of his passes for 556 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. However, in 2018, the 38-year-old raised his completion rate to a career-high 66%, and his 7.5 yards-per-attempt average was considerably higher than it was in the previous two seasons. He also dropped his interceptions total (11) to the lowest its been during his 14 seasons a full-time starter.

Manning will now have an opportunity to show teams that he’s still capable of playing in the NFL. The veteran says he plans on playing through at least the 2020 season, but it’s unlikely to be with the Giants. His $23.2MM salary limited his trade appeal this year – and Manning wouldn’t have waived his no-trade clause, anyway – but there figure to be many QB-needy teams speaking with the future Hall of Famer in March.

Jones won’t be the only Giants player missing Monday’s game. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweets that tight ends Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion), as well as cornerback Corey Ballentine (concussion), have also been ruled out.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.