The phones are ringing, but will the New York Giants take the bait? According to numerous reports, it appears the answer to that question is a resounding no.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Sunday that Engram, as well as fellow 2017 first-round tight end David Njoku of the Cleveland Browns, have each garnered interest from teams with the trade deadline approximately a week away. However, as of now both teams do not intend to move either guy. Rapoport added that this could perhaps change “if they are blown away by a monster deal, but both talented young tight ends figure to stay put.”
On Monday, ESPN’s Jordan Raanan reiterated Rapoport’s report. “Evan Engram is NOT expected to be traded,” Raanan tweeted. “Other teams have called, but he’s not being shopped. The Giants view him as an explosive offensive weapon that is part of their future, even though it hasn’t clicked yet this season.”
Engram is Everything Giants Need, So Why Doesn’t it Work?
For three-plus season now, Engram has been a living, walking enigma. A what-if of sorts. His skillset would appear to lend itself to him being one of football’s biggest mismatch mavens. Standing at 6-foot-3-inches, weighing in at 240-pounds and boasting 4.42-speed, it’s easy to see why other teams would like to get their hands on the 26-year-old pass-catcher. Yet, for a multitude of reasons, the Giants have simply not been able to tap into Engram’s true potential.
Those numerous attributes listed above would appear to be the exact type of skillset a team such as the Giants would greatly welcome on their offense, as they currently hoist the league’s third-worst ranked aerial attack.
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Plenty of Blame to Go Around
A slew of injuries, drops and mental miscues throughout his time in New York have somewhat overshadowed the fact that the Giants have grown worse in their abilities to feature the tight end.
When Jason Garrett was brought over from Dallas this offseason, Engram was pegged as one of the biggest winners from the acquisition, namely due to what Garrett was able to accomplish with Jason Witten during his days with the Cowboys. The expectation was that Garrett would be able to highlight Engram’s strength. Instead, the uber-talented tight end has been used similarly to that of an aged-Witten with one foot in the broadcast booth, receiving three or fewer targets in two of his past three games.
Yet, while it’s easy to point fingers at Garrett, just as much, if not more blame goes on Engram himself. The Giants are hungry for a player to step up and shoulder the playmaking duties in their offense, and Engram has simply been unable to do so. While drops can be a very subjective stat across platforms, they all have one thing in common, Engram is always ranked towards the top.
Dropped passes aren’t the kiss of death that many may peg them to be. Numerous elite talents such as Travis Kelce, Julio Jones, Davante Adams and Alvin Kamara rank amongst the leaders in the category, as Raanan notes. However, the issue is, Engram hasn’t produced nearly as close to the same rate as the aforementioned players to make up for his mishaps.
Speaking of mishaps, not only has targeting Engram become a potential drop waiting to happen, but it’s also resulted in turnovers more than a few times this season, as Justin Penik of Talkin’ Giants points out below:
The Giants have a total of 13 turnovers on offense this year. Evan Engram has been involved in 5 of them. 4 targets on INT’s out of Jones’ 7 total INT’s & 1 fumble. If you ask me, he has been involved in 6 turnovers this year b/c I count the 3rd down drop in Philly as a turnover. pic.twitter.com/pH7wMok5RU
— Justin Penik (@JustinPenik) October 26, 2020
Would the Giants be Jumping the Gun by Trading Engram?
It’s clear the majority of Giants fans have already mentally wiped their hands clean of Engram. Yet, let’s play devil’s advocate here for a minute. I would warn against being so willing to move on from talent, especially for a team that is clearly lacking in the category. Many were happy to see Odell Beckham Jr. go a few years back. However, fast forward to current time (well maybe before his torn ACL suffered on Sunday) and Beckham still remains a trending topic amongst many New Yorkers as a player they wish they could have back.
Problem is, Engram is nowhere near the gamechanger that Beckham proved to be during his time with the Giants. The fact of the matter is, New York has yet to get their full return on investment when they snagged Engram with the No. 23 pick in the 2017 Draft. Their best way of doing so may be to swing a trade.
As one personnel executive told Raanan of Engram, “young, talented players always do [have trade value].” Four coaching staffs have come through the Giants’s building since Engram has arrived, all believing they’d be the one to unlock Engram’s potential. Chances are there’ll be more than a few staffs on the outside looking in that believe they can do the same, likely dangling viable draft picks in order to secure Engram’s services.
With Kaden Smith sitting in the wings and the Giants clearly more than a piece or two away from posing as true contenders, a trade may prove to be the best turnout for both parties.
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