Tight end Evan Engram enjoyed a career revival with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2022. After putting up career numbers last year, he wanted to get a top-market contract but got instead the franchise tag. While Engram and the Jags still got time to get a deal done, there's a chance he will play the 2023 season on the tender, which led Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report to dub his contract extension the most important one on Jacksonville's to-do list in the upcoming months.
Knox selected every team's most important contract extension ahead of the 2023 season and believes the Jags must prioritize striking a deal with Engram, noting that it could potentially affect his chemistry with third-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
"The Jacksonville Jaguars have until July 17 to work out a long-term extension with tight end Evan Engram, and they should. After that date, he'll be forced to play under the franchise tag and could potentially walk in 2024 free agency.
That would create a potential problem for the Jags and quarterback Trevor Lawrence—who developed a palpable rapport with Engram last season. The soon-to-be 29-year-old caught 73 passes for 766 yards and four touchdowns in his first season in Jacksonville."
A first-round pick by the New York Giants in 2017, Engram frequently showed potential but wasn't able to put it all together. Specifically, drops marred his stint in the Big Apple, tallying 29 in the span of five years. However, he worked on that in Jacksonville and only had three. Moreover, the former Ole Miss Rebel set new team records for passing yards by a tight end in a season, catches by a tight end in a season and passing yards by a tight end in a single game.
Engram's 73 catches last year were the third-most among tight ends. Similarly, his 766 receiving yards ranked fourth at the position, so it's easy to see why he would like to be one of the highest-paid tight ends in the league. On the other hand, several tight ends wanted that hit the open market had trouble getting paid in free agency, with Dalton Schultz and Mike Gesicki having to respectively settle for one-year deals worth less than $10 million.
The Jaguars and Engram have until July 17 to reach an agreement. If they don't, he'll play the 2023 season under the tag with a chance to hit the open market next offseason.
The Jacksonville Jaguars might prioritize paying other players over Evan Engram
Nobody can question Engram's value on the Jaguars' offense. He was without a doubt the best tight end they had since Marcedes Lewis and he was arguably better. Having said that, he might not stick around after the 2023 season. After all, he's not the only player in line for a long-term extension.
Wide receiver Calvin Ridley is also set to become a free agent next year. Although he hasn't played a down for the Jaguars, he could have an even bigger impact on the offense than Engram. Also, the Jaguars need to pay outside linebacker Josh Allen. While they could wait until 2024, they might prioritize giving him an extension if he gets off to a strong start in the regular season.
Last but not least is Trevor Lawrence, who's eligible for a contract extension as soon as 2024. Getting him under contract might eat up a significant amount of cap space and could hinder the organization's ability to pay other players even if Lawrence agrees to a team-friendly deal.
This isn't to say that the Jacksonville Jaguars won't get a deal done with Engram. Simply, they might prioritize other players, as they can't just wave a magic wand and sign them all. While they could end up striking a deal with Engram before the deadline, there's an equal chance they won't.