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Evan Engram Jaguars

Was It Smart For Jaguars To Franchise Tag Evan Engram?

  • Justin Melo
  • March 2, 2023
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The Jacksonville Jaguars have placed the franchise tag on tight end Evan Engram, according to multiple reports. Engram, who signed a one-year contract with Jacksonville ahead of the 2022 campaign, was set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 15. Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke was wise to retain Engram, but signing him to a longer-term deal would have represented a better outcome.

A highly-intriguing reclamation project, Engram earned $9 million via a one-year prove-it deal in 2022. The franchise tag would pay Engram a fully-guaranteed sum of $11.345 million. Utilizing the tag does extend Jacksonville’s negotiation window with Engram to mid-July. If a deal isn’t reached, Engram will play the impending campaign under the tag, and Jacksonville will carry an $11.345 million cap charge.

Engram bet on himself in 2022. It proved to be an excellent decision for his future outlook. Signing up to play alongside Doug Pederson and Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville paid dividends for Engram. Pederson holds a special appreciation for tight ends in his offense after previously coaching Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert in Philadelphia. Engram responded to the opportunity by recording career-highs in receptions (733) and receiving yards (766) while also averaging a chain-moving 10.5 yards per catch and scoring four touchdowns.

There are ugly alternatives to consider with Jacksonville’s motive, however. Engram’s career has lacked consistency after previously failing to meet first-round expectations with the New York Giants. Baalke could prefer to witness a repeat performance of 2022 before committing to Engram long term. Or perhaps the Jaguars aren’t interested in retaining Engram’s services beyond the 2023 campaign altogether. Tagging Engram ensures Jacksonville gets at least one more year out of Engram, who will turn 29 during the season. We won’t know for sure until Engram signs the tag or a multi-year extension.

There is a fairly straightforward path to Engram repeating his recent production in 2023, though. Lawrence is quickly establishing himself as a top-10 quarterback in the NFL. Expectations will be heightened for Lawrence next season. If his postseason performances against the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs are any indication, Lawrence is well on his way to superstardom. With the tight end position remaining a focal point of Pederson’s offense, Engram is already set up to experience additional success.

The Jaguars recently cleared an abundance of cap space via contract restructures. The Jaguars entered the offseason more than $20 million above the 2023 cap, per Spotrac, but cleared roughly $26 million in space by converting base salaries into signing bonuses for Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Brandon Scherff. Baalke also signed Roy Robertson-Harris to an extension, which should lower his immediate cap hit. All of this movement allowed Jacksonville to tag Engram. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin may still be a potential cap casualty as Jacksonville prepares to absorb an $11.1 million cap hit once Calvin Ridley is reinstated.

The Jaguars were wise to ensure they retained Engram. Another 700-plus receiving yard season appears on the horizon. Will the Jaguars keep Evan Engram beyond 2023? Time will reveal Baalke’s intentions.

Written By

Justin Melo