Evan Engram could be out of East Rutherford after 2021 if he doesn’t significantly prove his long-term worth.
The drops and missed blocks are drive-killers.
But the upside is present.
The Giants wish for Evan Engram to be a notable component of what the team is building on the offensive side of the ball. But strides must be taken, and quickly. The young tight end is entering the final year of his rookie contract and could be out of East Rutherford if he doesn’t prove he’s worth a lengthy new deal.
Ups and downs
What’s intriguing is that Engram carries the potential to be one of the more athletic, versatile, and in turn, productive tight ends this league has to offer. In an era in which the speed of the game is progressively increasing each and every year, Engram can be an additional receiver — someone who can line up in the slot and out wide if need be.
The mistakes loom large though. Eleven drops, a 10.1% drop rate, and being targeted on six of the 11 interceptions the Giants threw as a team in 2020 are not statistics to overlook. The key drop late in the 2020 Week 7 matchup with Philly, which played a role in the Giants losing the game (and, in hindsight, the NFC East), is not something to overlook either.
If Engram doesn’t clean up the on-field blunders and become a consistent contributor to the Giants offense (which finished second-to-last in both total yards and points last season), a new contract might not be worth it.
When deciding whether to spend a decent chunk of change on Engram, the organization must take into account the money already being spent on alternative offensive constituents.
The Giants have a contract finalized that will pay No. 1 wideout Kenny Golladay an average annual salary of $18 million. Sterling Shepard’s current deal also carries cap hits of $9 million, $10.5 million, and $11 million respectively over the next three seasons, and Nate Solder, who may not even be a starting offensive tackle, is set to count for $9.5 million against the cap in 2021 even after his contract restructure.
Not to mention, the Giants eventually might need to worry about the contract extensions of Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones, and Darius Slayton — Will Hernandez too if he performs well this coming season.
The right on-field situation
Increasing Engram’s true worth could partly come at the hands of the coaching staff.
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett cannot utilize Evan the way he did Jason Witten for years in Dallas, and instead, needs to play him to his on-field strengths.
Garrett must maximize Engram’s obvious athleticism and versatility. He needs to make him a downfield threat while also fielding him in the slot and out wide as more of a split end at times. Maybe field him in the backfield in some sets or use him on more sweep-type plays and end-arounds?
Implementing more creativity into the playbook and having Engram take on a multitude of roles would keep the opponent guessing, which could then lead to him finding holes in the defense to enhance his production level.
A narrow time frame
The young tight end doesn’t possess a notable number of limitations — that’s not the issue.
The issues are that the game plans don’t maximize what he can truly bring to the table and the mistakes become overwhelming when evaluating his on-field performances.
If the evident problems aren’t solved, a second contract might not come Engram’s way — the 2021 season may be the final chance to fix everything.