Tight end Evan Engram joined the Jacksonville Jaguars last offseason and he went on to become one of their best players on offense. Less than two weeks away from this year’s free agency period, Engram looked back at some of the things he went through when he signed with the Jags last.
Engram told Greg Jennings of The 33rd Team that even though he had agreed in principle to join the Jaguars last year, he couldn’t talk to them directly, so all the communication the first two days was through his agent, which made it a bit weird.
“When I committed to Jacksonville, it was weird for a minute because I didn’t get to talk to anybody there”, Engram said. “I didn’t get to talk to Doug [Pederson], I didn’t get to talk to Trent [Baalke]. It was just communication with my agent to me about what was going on, so I was really going into it hoping this is going to be the right place. And the only, real concrete information I had was Doug’s involvement with tight ends in his coaching career.
Engram goes on to say that once he met with the Jaguars’ brass, it all began to make sense.
So that was the only solidified information I knew for two days until that Wednesday hit and we can talk to them. And they got me there that Wednesday. I got to meet Doug, I got to meet the offensive staff and all the guys, so once that happened, I finally felt like everything made sense”.
Free agency officially started on Wednesday, March 16 last year but players could negotiate and agree to deals since Monday 14, the day Engram reached a one-year contract worth $9 million with the Jags. Although it’s rare, players can back down from any agreement within that two-day window.
In the end, Engram went on to post career numbers and set new team records along the way. Although he’s made it clear he’s coming off the best year of his life, he and the Jaguars haven’t touched base on a multi-year contract, which is why they’ll reportedly use the franchise tag to keep him from leaving. Here’s Engram’s full sitdown with Jennings.
Keeping Evan Engram has become the Jacksonville Jaguars top priority
Changing teams is a hassle for players and their families, as they almost always have to move to another state. Relocation means not only buying a house but also looking for schools for their kids. Thus, many players would probably stay put if given the choice.
In Engram’s case, he would like to return to Jacksonville but it’s highly unlikely that he’ll come back at the expense of not getting top-market compensation for his services. He’s coming off a career year and he would arguably be the top tight end in the open market if he were to become a free agent. This is why nobody should blame him for looking for the best possible deal.
On the other hand, the Jags deserve props for doing what they can to keep Engram from leaving. They would surely like to have a deal done by now, as they could structure the contract in a way in which his cap hit in 2023 stays low. However, they’d rather use the franchise tag and continue their efforts to sign him to a long-term deal than just throw in the towel and let him become a free agent.
The Jacksonville Jaguars need to work on getting better, not making other things better and that means finding common ground with Engram and keeping him beyond the 2023 season.