Tight end didn’t rank as high as wide receiver on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offseason to-do list but it was still a pressing need entering free agency. The team’s brass ended up signing former New York Giants tight end Evan Engram. While the Jags expect the former first-round pick to become a key cog on their offense, there’s a chance he may not make a major impact.
Kambui Bomani of Pro Football Focus recently gathered a list of five boom-or-bust signings in this year’s free agency and Engram made the cut. Bomani argues that the tight end has experienced a decline in recent years, posting career lows on offensive and receiving grades last season.
"Engram has endured a slow decline as a pass-catching tight end, registering career-lows in offensive grade (53.5) and receiving grade (54.9) in 2021. His highest receiving and offensive performances came in his second NFL season (76.3 and 75.7 in 2018, respectively), and he’ll now be tasked to revive his career alongside an array of newly signed pass-catchers to elevate quarterback Trevor Lawrence during his sophomore campaign."
On the other hand, Bomani says that Engram will enjoy a fresh start on Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson’s tight-end friendly offense, which is something fellow PFF analyst Seth Galina previously noted. Back in 2018, the tight end averaged a career-best 12.8 yards per reception. Since then, that number has gone down and last season, posting a career-low 8.9 yards per catch. The Jaguars surely expect him to put up (surpass) similar numbers to the ones he had in his rookie campaign. That year, he hauled in 64 receptions for 722 yards with six touchdowns. If he achieves that kind of production, their offense should be in good shape.
The Jaguars need TE Evan Engram to flourish in 2022.
Engram’s yard-per-average is certainly a cause for concern but as Bomani pointed out, he could benefit from a change of scenery. The Giants haven’t had the most stable quarterback situation and this in turn has affected the tight end’s production. It’s true that the Jaguars haven’t gotten a great performance from the quarterback position in recent years but with Trevor Lawrence set to make a leap in Year 2, their offense should kick into high gear in 2022.
The Jaguars are giving Engram $9 million because they expect him to perform at a high level. Dan Arnold will still get a big workload but Engram should get the majority of the targets. Of course, there’s a chance the signing doesn’t pan out but if it doesn’t, Jacksonville can easily move on from the tight end next offseason. But in the best-case scenario, the one the team’s brass most likely envision, the tight end will flourish and help the offense put plenty of points on the scoreboard.
The Jaguars have their work cut out if they want to rank to field a respectable offense in 2022. Signing Evan Engram, among other players, in free agency was a good start. It will now be up to him to make the most out of his opportunity and the coaching staff to put him in a position to succeed.