Evan Engram better off staying with Jacksonville Jaguars amid depressed TE market in NFL Free Agency

Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Evan Engram (17). Corey Perrine - Florida Times-Union/USA
Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Evan Engram (17). Corey Perrine - Florida Times-Union/USA / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA

The Jacksonville Jaguars and tight end Evan Engram wanted to strike a long-term deal before the start of free agency but negotiations fell apart, so the Jags ended up applying the franchise tag on Engram, which prevented him from hitting the open market for at least one more year. While it may be a bit too premature to grade the team's decision to use the tag, both parties could end up benefiting.

The five highest-paid tight ends are set to make more than $14 million in 2023, and Engram may have wanted to get a contract in that range coming off a season in which he posted career numbers and set numerous Jaguars records. In fact, it looked like he and Jacksonville were close to striking a deal but once it was reported that they were going to tag him, their chances of getting it done dropped considerably.

The Jags and Engram can still exchange offers and and work out a long-term deal until July 17th. If they can't find common ground, he'll play the 2023 season under the tag and won't be able to resume contract talks until next year.

The Jacksonville jaguars didn't want to overpay Evan Engram in 2023

Players are worth whatever a team is willing to pay the and they should always maximize their value. Thus, Evan Engram shouldn't be blamed for wanting to get a top-market contract. Then again, playing under the tag might not be necessarily a bad thing. Sure, he won't be one of the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL -- even though he should be -- but given the depressed market in free agency, it looks like he's better off staying with the Jacksonville Jaguars for at least one more season.

Dalton Schultz remains unsigned despite the fact that he's the best tight end available in the open market. Mike Gesick had to settle on a modest one-year contract worth $4.5 million and Hayden Hurst inked a three-year, $21.7 million contract with the Carolina Panthers, making him the highest-paid tight end in this year's free agency.

Engram was more productive than all of them last season and there's a strong chance he might have gotten a better contract but it's hard to see him getting one that pays him an annual salary of $14 million. Heck, he might have wanted an even lower average per year but wouldn't probably have gotten it even if he had been a free agent.

The downside of playing under the tag is that players don't have the long-term security a multi-year contract provides. Had Engram signed an extension, he would have shifted the injury risk to the Jags, so he must remain healthy if he wants to cash in next year. The upside is that he could have another productive season and get the contract he's aiming for.

The bottom line is that Engram would have probably wanted a long-term deal instead of the franchise tag. But given the outlook in free agency, he's probably glad he got the tag rather than hitting the open market.

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