It's OTAs in Jacksonville, and Jaguars TE Evan Engram is busy Podcasting

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Chargers v Jacksonville Jaguars
AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Chargers v Jacksonville Jaguars / Douglas P. DeFelice/GettyImages

Organized Team Activities OTAs are underway in Jacksonville, and Jaguars fans are getting excited for the season. All things considered, 2023 may be the most anticipated season in franchise history, and everything needs to be perfect before the kickoff in Week 1.

This season has too much hype and expectations, and the Jaguars don't need any holdouts or no-shows at camp. But, unfortunately, there is a key absence at OTAs, star tight end Evan Engram.

The Ole Miss Rebel has stayed busy though. He recently made an appearance on The 2nd Wind podcast and said the Jaguars are the reason for his resurgence.” I wanted to be great where I got the end of the day, I needed Jacksonville, I needed the coaches I had there, and I needed the relationships I built with the guys there.

I had the best time of my life the past season, it was literally the first time in my career where I didn't want to leave the building. It was a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and I'm in the building just staying because I wanted to work or watch more film, or I'm staying with Trevor, watching film with him, going over them with him.”

Jacksonville feels the same way, Engram's hybrid TE/WR style is just what the Jaguars needed. His 766 yards on 73 receptions were a career-high for the former first-rounder. He was fourth in the league for receptions from a tight end and third in yardage despite only being targeted 5.8 times a game. Remember this epic mismatch between Engram and one of the best corners the NFL has to offer.

The Jacksonville Jaguars can't afford Evan Engram to miss more practices

Back in 2022, Engram signed a one-year, prove-it deal, and he proved it, he was one of the top five tight-end in the NFL. This is why he hasn't signed his franchise tender yet, and I can't blame him.

On top of not signing, he isn't showing up for OTAs. That is suspicious behavior for a guy that says, "I didn't want to leave the building." But he is right, his franchise tag is worth $11.2 million, and he is worth a lot more and deserves it. More importantly, the Jags need him. The opener against the Indianapolis Colts is crucial, and Engram will be an instrumental part of the game plan if the Jaguars want to win in that game.

Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke said the hope is to ink Engram long-term before training camp. "Yeah, I mean, that's the goal. The goal is to get this thing done," Baalke said. "These negotiations are always ... there's ups and downs as you go through the process, and you're just trying to come to a common goal here to get him signed. I think we're trending in that direction, but we're not there yet. We'll continue to work to get him signed to a long-term extension, and hopefully, we can get that done."

It is not surprising he is skipping OTAs or holding out on signing his franchise tender. Many unsigned franchise and transition players miss voluntary and mandatory team offseason activities while they aren't under contract to try to pressure the team into meeting their financial demands.

The Jaguars and Engram have until July 17 to come to a multi-year contract. After that, they could be in a holdout situation. The two seem to be on the same page, Engram wants to be in Jacksonville, and the Jaguars passed on top-tier tight ends in the draft with anticipation of retaining Engram.

Engram has been underrated and dismissed his whole career, from high school to college to the NFL. He has repeatedly proved to be elite, it's time for him to get paid. Your move, Trent Baalke. The clock is ticking in Jacksonville, and Engram is too crucial to the Jaguars' playoff run.

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