The Jacksonville Jaguars have until March 7th to strike a long-term deal with tight end Evan Engram. If they don’t, they’ll have no choice but to slap him with the franchise tag. Either way, the Jags aren’t letting him walk in free agency. Having said that, Engram isn’t the only Jags tight end scheduled to hit the open market. Both Chris Manhertz and Dan Arnold are also set to become free agents and if they leave, Michael DiRocco of ESPN believes Robert Tonyan would be a solid replacement
DiRocco drew up a list of players the Jaguars could target in free agency and he thinks Tonyan would form a solid tight end tandem with Engram, noting that Tonyan would be a better receiving option than both Arnold and Manhertz.
"Tight end is the Jaguars’ top offensive need, with only Luke Farrell currently under contract for 2023. Evan Engram will either be back on a new deal or under the franchise tag, but expect the Jaguars to address the position in the draft, too. Tonyan did have a career-high 53 catches in 2022 but averaged just 8.9 yards per catch. He’d be a good complement to Engram and the Jaguars would have a better receiving option with Tonyan in two tight end sets than they had last season."
After going undrafted in 2017, Tonyan signed with the Detroit Lions and later joined the Green Bay Packers, where he’s spent his whole career. The Indiana State product has appeared in 68 games with 18 starts and has logged 137 catches for 1,437 yards with 17 touchdowns.
Robert Tonyan would give the Jacksonville Jaguars another offensive weapon
Tonyan isn’t particularly great in pass protection, posting a Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade of 35.3 last year. However, he mostly lined up as a receiver, logging just 10 pass-blocking snaps, PFF. Meanwhile, he ran a route on 370 snaps and the Jaguars would most likely use him in a similar role if they were to sign him.
Last season, Manhertz and Arnold ran a route on 87 snaps and 64, respectively. If the Jags had Tonyan line up as a receiver in the slot they could use Farrell as a blocker. Farrell played 94 snaps in 2022 but mostly got playing time as a blocker, running a route on 26 plays.
Last is Tonyan’s potential compensation. He inked a one-year deal worth $3.75 million in 2022 and went on to catch a career-high 53 passes. Coming off a productive season, Spotract projects him to get a one-year, $5.09 million in free agency but the Jaguars make him an offer similar to the one he got last offseason.
Whether the Jacksonville Jaguars tag Engram or give him a long-term contract he’s not going anywhere in 2023. Once the team’s brass checks off that box, they’ll need to address the rest of their tight end room. If they can’t keep Manhertz or Arnold, Tonyan would then become a realistic replacement.