Tight end Evan Engram was always going to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2023. The question was whether he was going to do it under the franchise tag or if he and the Jags would be able to get a deal done. They got an answer when they struck a three-year deal worth $42.5 million just before the July 17 deadline.
With contract talks behind him, Engram can focus on being ready for the 2023 season. And with him in the fold for the next three seasons, now is a good time to see who benefited from him getting a multi-year deal.
3 winners from the Jaguars decision to give Evan Engram a long-term deal
Winner No. 3: Trevor Lawrence
This one is not surprising, Evan Engram was one of Trevor Lawrence's top targets last season, accounting for 98 of his 584 throwing attempts. The pair developed a solid report in their first season together and they won't have to start over in 2024, which could have been the case if the star tight end hadn't secured a multi-year extension.
Winner No. 2: Brenton Strange
This one might be a bit odd since Brenton Strange, a second-round pick in this year's draft, would have been the first in line to replace Evan Engram if he left next year. But with Engram in the mix, the coaching staff won't have to rush Strange into the football field until he's ready.
Make no mistake, football players are fierce competitors, and Strange would surely love to get on the field as soon as possible but not many players are afforded the opportunity to work on his craft and develop. He will get that chance in 2023.
Winner(s) No. 1: Tight ends set to hit the open market in 2024
This wasn't a good year to be a free agent if you were a tight end. The open market wasn't particularly enticing to begin with. It was lacking star talent and there weren't arguably as many splash signings as there have been in previous years.
The top tight ends in this year's free agent class, Mike Gesicki, and Dalton Schlutz, would have gotten salaries of over $10 million or more per year if they had hit the open market last offseason. But they both got slapped with the franchise tag and only became free agents this past March. They failed to get a top-market offer and Schultz had to settle for a one-year deal worth $6.5 million to join the Houston Texans while Gesicki inked a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the New England Patriots.
Even though Engram's new contract didn't reset the market, he got a much better deal than Schultz and Gesicki. His annual average of $13.5 million ranks sixth among tight ends in 2023 and it's possible that Schultz and Gesicki, along with Tyler Higbee, will use Engram's deal as a negotiation floor when they hit the open market next year.