5 contract decisions that will pay off for the Jaguars in 2023

The Jacksonville Jaguars took a conservative approach in free agency to avoid handicapping their ability to make big moves in future years. Yet, they still managed to make a handful of smart contract decisions. Here are the best five.

Jaguars owner Shad Khan talks with the team's first round draft pick Anton Harrison as they walk.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan talks with the team's first round draft pick Anton Harrison as they walk. / Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY
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No. 1 Jaguars decision that can pay off: Not giving Evan Engram a long-term deal

NFL clubs often earn praise for the moves they make but they should also get recognition for the ones they don't. For instance, look at Evan Engram's contract situation. A first-round pick by the New York Giants the 2017 draft, the former Ole Miss Rebel was a solid player but far from a difference-maker.

Although Engram made the Pro Bowl in 2020, he never played like a top-5 tight end during his stint in the Big Apple. But that all changed when he signed a one-year deal with the Jags last offseason. In his own words, Jacksonville was what he needed and he isn't wrong. When he played for the G-Men, he was marred by drops and mental mistakes.

Engram fixed both issues last year and went on to have a banner season. On top of that, he set several franchise records. Heading into the offseason, Engram and the team said there was mutual interest in getting a deal done but with free agency looming, the Jaguars decided to apply the franchise tag on him.

Not long after getting the tag, Engram said he felt it was just a placeholder while he and Jacksonville kept exchanging offers. However, the deadline to get a long-term deal done is less than a week away as of this writing (July 17) and it doesn't look like a deal is imminent. While deadlines tend to spur action, the Jaguars will probably let Engram play the 2023 season under the tag, get another productive season out of him, and let him walk in 2023.

At $11.345 million, Engram is underpaid relative to the highest-paid tight ends. The top five are set to make at least $14 million next season, so maybe that's why the Jaguars have stayed firm in contract talks and refused to meet his demands.

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