Tagging Evan Engram named the Jacksonville Jaguars smartest 2023 offseason decision
The Jacksonville Jaguars lost right tackle Jawaan Taylor and defensive end Arden Key in free agency but they managed to retain tight end Evan Engram. While a multi-year contract might have been preferable, the Jags used the franchise tag on their star tight end to keep him from hitting the open market until 2024. Regardless of where Engram plays next year, Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report thinks that tagging him is the team's best move this offseason.
Knox discussed every NFL club's smartest move this offseason and argues that Engram gave Jacksonville a reliable target on offense, posting a passer rating of 110.3 when targeted last season. On top of that, Knox notes that the former Ole Miss Reble build a solid rapport with quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
"Engram provided a passer rating of 110.3 when targeted, which speaks to his reliability as one of Lawrence's go-to targets. Lawrence and Engram developed a palpable chemistry over the course of the season, and retaining the pass-catcher was a priority, even with talented tight ends like Dalton Schultz and Hayden Hurst also hitting the free-agent market. By using the tag, Jacksonville ensured that Engram wouldn't get away this offseason. "
One of the biggest concerns when the Jaguars inked Engram, a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, last offseason was his penchant for making mental mistakes and his high number of drops during his five-year tenure with the New York Giants. However, he came through when the regular season started and became one of Lawrence's favorite targets down the stretch.
Engram was one of the top tight ends in the league last season and set several team records along the way. Not surprisingly he wanted his next contract to reflect his on-field production. While it seemed like he and the Jaguars' brass were close to striking a deal, they couldn't get one done before free agency so they resorted to the franchise tag.
Evan Engram is an integral piece of the Jacksonville Jaguars offense
Nobody should fault Engram for wanting to maximize his value. He's coming off a career year, so he would be justified if he wants to be one of highest paid tight ends in the NFL. Having said that, it looks like the Jaguars don't want to overspend this offseason. Besides not having nearly enough cap room, there will be other players waiting in line to get paid, maybe outside linebacker Josh Allen is next and Trevor Lawrence will be eligible for a contract extension in 2024, so the organization might be taking a long-term approach.
On the other hand, there wasn't a high demand for tight ends this offseason. Dalton Schultz and Mike Gesicki agreed to one-year deals and Engram will be making more than both under the tag in 2023. He's not among the highest-paid tight ends right now but there's a chance that he wouldn't have gotten the kind of contract he wants, so getting the tag might not be necessarily a bad thing.
In the end, Engram is set to be a key cog on the Jaguars for at least one more season. Their relationship might not extend beyond 2023, so they need to make the most of it.