During a media Zoom conference with reporters on Tuesday, both GM Dave Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge –– to the surprise of no one –– emphatically committed to Daniel Jones being the quarterback of the New York Giants.
Yet, Jones wasn’t the only highly-debated former first-round draft pick to receive a boost of confidence from the Giants higher-ups.
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Giants Appear to Commit to TE Evan Engram
Despite a tumultuous up and down 2020 campaign, headlined by a recorded 11 dropped passes (per Pro Football Network), Evan Engram’s standing within the Giants organization appears to be safe. In fact, not only does it sound as if Engram will return to East Rutherford in 2021, but that when he does he’ll be a featured component of the team’s Jason Garrett-run offense.
“I love Evan. I have a ton of confidence in Evan. He’s fun to coach, the guys have fun playing with him, he gives everyone in the locker room a ton of confidence,” Judge told reporters. “This guy goes out there every day and this guy works tirelessly, I mean tirelessly. This guy is a tank every day, so in terms of confidence within the program, absolutely we have confidence in him, 100 percent. He’s a guy that obviously we have to keep continuing to feature in the offense.”
To Retain or to Release?
Engram has been readily discussed as a cap causality/trade candidate this offseason, and understandably so. Even after freeing up $12 million following the release of veteran guard Kevin Zeitler, the Giants are just $3.283 million under the $182.5 million salary cap, per Over The Cap. Were the team to move on from their 2017 first-round selection, they could save an additional $6 million.
For years Engram has lived off of his sky-high potential. He possesses all the blue-chip traits you look for in an elite tight end, but for some reason, it hasn’t translated to constant on-field dominance.
Yet, while I’m not here to defend Engram for failing to reach his perceived potential, I am here to toss out the idea of simply accepting him for the player that he currently is.
While you could argue Engram didn’t truly warrant his 2020 Pro Bowl nod, the 26-year-old tight end did produce arguably the most well-rounded campaign of his four-year career. His 63 receptions for 654 yards each ranked third amongst all NFC tight ends. They were also the second-highest totals of his professional career and his best output since his rookie season. Furthermore, he showed growth as a willing blocker –– although the Giants would still be better off having a different tight end man those duties moving forward. And most importantly, Engram proved capable of staying healthy, appearing in all 16 games for the first time ever since joining the Giants in 2017.
The biggest caveat here is that Engram’s play, while solid, doesn’t warrant a featured role in the Giants’ offense. Yet, considering the team’s current arsenal of receiving options, New York isn’t left with much of a choice. Not to mention an extra $6 million in the team’s pocket from cutting Engram isn’t going to suddenly fix the team’s lacking aerial attack.
Instead of looking to replace one of their most productive pass-catchers, the team may be best served to acquire up-and-coming talent (free agency/draft) to place around Engram. In return, better placing the tight end in a more suitable role as a secondary option.
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