Evan Engram

Jaguars To Sign TE Evan Engram

The Jaguars continue to add to their offense. Jacksonville is signing tight end Evan Engram, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).

[RELATED: Jaguars To Sign Christian Kirk]

It’s a one-year deal worth $9MM, and the contract could be worth up to $10MM with incentives. PFF’s Doug Kyed tweets that the deal contains $8.25MM in guaranteed money, which includes a $3MM signing bonus and $5.25MM base salary. The tight end has $800K worth of reception and receiving yard incentives.

A first-round pick by the Giants in 2018, Engram had an inconsistent five years in New York. After missing 13 combined games between 2018 and 2019, Engram earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2020 after finishing with 63 receptions for 654 yards and one touchdown. However, his numbers took a step back in 2021, with the tight end finishing with 46 receptions for a career-low 408 receiving yards.

Still, those numbers would represent an upgrade at the position for the Jaguars. The team’s top receiving TE in 2021 was Dan Arnold, who finished with 28 receptions for 324 yards. Engram will join a tight ends depth chart that already includes Arnold, James O’Shaughnessy, Chris Manhertz, and Luke Farrell.

However, there’s a chance Engram doesn’t even line up as TE for his new squad. There were recent reports that teams were looking into Engram as a wide receiver, with the player’s combination of speed, agility, and size making him a potential matchup nightmare. We’ll see if that ends up being the case in Jacksonville. According to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post (on Twitter), the Colts, 49ers, and Bills were among the teams to express interest in Engram before he landed in Jacksonville.

The Jaguars have been busy adding to their offense this afternoon. After agreeing to a deal with offensive lineman Brandon Scherff, the organization inked receiver Christian Kirk to a lucrative deal.

Cardinals, TE Zach Ertz Closing In On Deal

After acquiring tight end Zach Ertz in a trade with the Eagles in mid-October of last year, the Cardinals are finalizing a new multi-year deal for the nine-year veteran, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. The three-year deal is set to keep the 31-year-old among the top-10 highest-paid tight ends in the NFL. 

Ertz is a three-time Pro Bowler who set the NFL-record for single-season receptions for a tight end in 2018 with 116 catches, which trailed only Saints’ receiver Michael Thomas for the league lead among all pass-catchers. Ertz was consistently productive in Philadelphia, recording five-straight seasons with at least 800 receiving yards.

After taking a back seat role to the Eagles’ younger tight end Dallas Goedert, the Cardinals made the move to acquire Ertz and watched him thrive in the new system. Ertz’s 11 games in Arizona in 2021 showed far more production than the 11 games he played in Philadelphia the year prior. With wide receivers Christian Kirk and A.J. Green set to hit the free agent market this week, locking down their tight end was a must.

The three-year deal will be worth $31.65MM with a guaranteed amount of $17.5MM. The annual average value of $10.55MM ranks 10th among NFL tight ends, just below David Njoku, Mike Gesicki, and Dalton Schultz, who got franchise tagged for $10.93MM. With this deal Ertz is now off the crowded tight end market, along with the three who were tagged. Remaining options for those looking for tight ends are C.J. Uzomah, Robert Tonyan, Evan Engram, and Will Dissly.

Latest On Giants’ Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram

With new management in place and a difficult cap situation to handle, there is sure to be plenty of roster turnover for the Giants in the coming days. Two of the biggest names to watch are Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, players whom the team have very different levels of interest in keeping. 

It was reported last week that the Giants are asking the former to take a significant pay cut as part of the team’s larger cost-cutting agenda. Dan Duggan of The Athletic reports, however, that the 29-year-old won’t accept the financial hit, at least to the degree the team has proposed (subscription required). His salary is currently set to be $8.5MM, but a drop all the way to the $1.1MM veteran minimum is therefore off the table.

Duggan adds that there is “mutual interest” for the former second-rounder to stay in New York, his only home in six seasons spent in the NFL. He reports that the parties “have been trying to find a middle ground” with regard to compensation so he can stay. When healthy, Shepard has been Daniel Jones‘ favorite target, but injury troubles (such as the torn Achilles he is currently rehabbing) have landed the wideout in this situation.

As for Engram, Duggan reiterates the notion that he is headed elsewhere in free agency. Whether teams view him as strictly a tight end, or as someone capable of lining up as a slot receiver will be key to how much his market develops. Duggan notes that he’s heard a wide range of possibilities for the 27-year-old in terms of the value of a new contract, from a short-term deal around $7MM or $8MM, to the longer, more valuable pacts signed by the likes of Jonnu Smith last year. Interestingly, he names the Bills as potentially being “a top suitor for Engram”.

With more work to be done to get under the cap, there are still plenty of moving parts for the Giants to handle. The situations with Shepard and Engram will go a long way to determining the rest of the team’s offseason, and in turn, their long-term roster re-tooling.

Latest On Giants’ Evan Engram

Teams have interest in Giants tight end Evan Engram as a slot WR, in addition to his native tight end position (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). With that, Engram’s market could be shaping up to be even stronger than previously expected. 

[RELATED: Giants Likely To Target Trubisky]

Engram has plus speed and agility for a tight end, so these teams believe that he’d be a matchup nightmare as a WR3. The Giants, meanwhile, seem to have cooled on the idea of keeping him. The new regime won’t break the bank to retain the former Pro Bowler, which means that he’ll likely be moving on when free agency opens next week.

Engram, a 2017 first-round pick, has had a rocky five years with the Giants. Limited to just 19 games between 2018 and ’19, he turned in a healthy and productive 2020. That year, he played in all 16 games and tallied 63 catches for 654 yards and one touchdown (plus a rushing TD), earning his first Pro Bowl nod. He stayed healthy for the most part last year, though his numbers sagged along with everyone else on the G-Men. Last year, he finished out with 45 catches, a career-low 404 receiving yards, and just three TDs.

Now that Dalton Schultz and Mike Gesicki have received the franchise tag, Engram profiles as a top-tier TE in this year’s class, along with Rob Gronkowski and Zach Ertz. Unlike those veterans, Engram offers youth and, perhaps, is the only one versatile or willing enough to line up in the slot.

Giants Notes: Jones, Barkley, Engram

Giants GM Joe Schoen recently told reporters that no decision has been made with respect to QB Daniel Jones‘ fifth-year option for 2023, which must be exercised or declined by May 2. “We haven’t been around him other than a couple weeks,” Schoen said (via Mike Florio of PFT). “Again, we’re going to take our time with the process. We’re going to be around Daniel. We’re going to get the chance to see him throw and work with the guys that we have. … We’re going to be patient with that decision.”

New York is interested in signing free agent passer Mitchell Trubisky and having him compete with Jones for the starting job in 2022. Given that, and given Jones’ struggles over his first three professional seasons, it would be surprising if Schoen were to pick up Jones’ option, which is worth a fully-guaranteed $21.3MM.

Now for more from Big Blue:

  • When asked about the possibility of trading RB Saquon Barkley, Schoen did not rule it out. However, as Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes, Schoen would have to be floored to make a deal. Although the Giants are obviously in rebuild mode, they also want to field a competitive team and surround Jones or any other passer with enough talent to fairly evaluate their QB situation. Furthermore, Barkley’s “strong preference” is to stay with New York, and Dunleavy’s sources believe that if the Giants were to trade him now, they shouldn’t expect much more than a fourth-round pick in return.
  • Before Schoen was hired, it was reported that the Giants were unlikely to break the bank to retain tight end and pending FA Evan Engram. We have not heard anything to suggest otherwise now that Schoen is in charge of personnel, which means that Engram is poised to hit the open market. As Dunleavy tweets, some interested teams are looking to utilize Engram more as a slot receiver and are preparing proposals with that goal in mind.
  • Georgia DE Travon Walker was one of the biggest winners at the scouting combine, putting on a display that solidified his position as one of the top D-linemen in the class. The fact that he was asked to fill a variety of roles along the Bulldogs’ defensive front limited his sack production, but his athletic traits are hard to beat, and ESPN draftnik Jordan Reid believes Walker might now be a top-five choice (subscription required). Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com suggests that the Giants may consider Walker with their No. 5 or No. 7 overall selections (Twitter link).

Latest On TE Evan Engram’s Future With Giants

Assuming Evan Engram is able to generate some interest in free agency this offseason, the tight end’s stint in New York has likely come to an end. As Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv writes, the Giants won’t break the bank to retain the former Pro Bowler.

Since being selected in the first round of the 2017 draft, Engram has had an up-and-down five seasons with the Giants. After being limited to only 19 games between 2018 and 2019, he managed to stay healthy in 2020, appearing in 16 games (14 starts) while hauling in 63 receptions for 654 receiving yards en route to a Pro Bowl nod.

The 27-year-old has managed to stay relatively healthy again in 2021, but his numbers have suffered thanks (in part) to inconsistent quarterback play. In 14 games, Engram has 45 catches for a career-low 404 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

The Giants were willing to pick up Engram’s fifth-year option for 2021, but they haven’t made any moves on an extension. It seemed pretty clear that the tight end was probably on his way out of the New York when his name surfaced in trade rumors earlier this season. Engram will be part of a free agent tight ends class that also features Dalton Schultz, Mike Gesicki, and vets like Rob Gronkowski and Zach Ertz. Even if Engram isn’t atop the FA list, Vacchiano still opines that the player could command a contract worth $8MM per season. If that’s the case, the Giants won’t match.

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.

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.