Outside linebacker Josh Allen is coming off a banner season. He's set to hit the open market in March. Barring a long-term agreement with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the next few weeks, he'll likely get the franchise tag before free agency begins. While negotiations aren't off to an enticing start, tight end Evan Engram hopes something gets done.
Engram earned the second Pro Bowl berth of his career. Ahead of the festivities, he met with the local media and touched on several topics, including Allen's contract situation.
"I'm talking him off the ledge a little bit, trying to call him down," Engram told reporters. "Telling him it will be alright. Josh, he's been a staple of Jacksonville since I got there, and the year he had. You can't let that go. I think he's in a good spot. I know we want him back. I know upstairs wants him back. I told him to just be patient."
A first-round pick in the 2019 draft, Allen tallied 10.5 sacks and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. However, he wasn't able to build on his early career success. A knee injury limited him to eight games and 2.5 sacks in his sophomore campaign. He and the Jaguars then had to deal with the Urban Meyer debacle in 2021. It wasn't until 2022, head coach Doug Pederson's first season in Jacksonville, that Allen was able to have a bit of stability.
Make no mistake, Allen had previously shown the ability to take over games but he wasn't able to do it consistently. While sacks aren't the only way to measure a pass rusher's success, he was severely lagging in that department, tallying a combined 17 from 2020-2022. Even though the team's confidence in Allen hadn't wavered, they weren't yet ready to commit to him long-term last year, so they picked the fifth-year option on his rookie deal.
Under pressure to deliver, Allen had a breakout year in 2023, registering 17.5 sacks. Similarly, he ranked in the top ten among pass rushers in nearly every meaningful metric. Simply put, the Jags wanted him to prove he was the player they envisioned and he passed the test with flying colors. Here's Evan Engram's exchange with the media at the Pro Bowl.
The Jacksonville Jaguars must take care of Josh Allen
If someone can empathize with Josh Allen, it's Evan Engram, having gone through a similar situation last offseason. Granted, salaries for tight ends and pass rushers are far from similar, but he knows what is like to perform and have to wait to get paid.
After posting career numbers and breaking several team records, Engram got the franchise tag. Eventually, he got a three-year deal worth $42.5 million before the deadline to negotiate a long-term contract took place. In the end, he and the Jaguars found common ground, but that might not have made the process any less frustrating.
Now, Allen has to wait for general manager Trent Baalke to begin negotiations. If they don't strike a deal before free agency begins, they'll have to use the franchise tag to buy themselves more time. But if they manage to give Allen an extension before the deadline in July, they may be able to let the bygones be bygones. Until then, this will be one of the biggest plotlines surrounding the Jags in the upcoming months.
Ultimately, the Jaguars and Allen have the same goal: They want to win football games in the next few seasons. By ensuring that he gets a multi-year extension, their chances will increase considerably.