TE Evan Engram is exceeding expectations, open to returning to Jaguars in 2023

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Evan Engram wanted a fresh start after five seasons with the New York Giants, and he felt signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars would give him a good chance to put up numbers in coach Doug Pederson’s tight end-friendly offense.

He only wanted to sign a one-year deal, though, and see where things would go from there after the 2022 season.

Potentially back to Jacksonville, it appears.

Engram says he is open to signing a longer-term deal with the Jaguars in the offseason, which is good news for a franchise that hasn’t exactly had a lot of production from pass-catching tight ends.

“I would like to be back,” Engram said. “… I've grown a lot in this year, on and off the field, and give credit to God for that, for putting the right people in my life, putting me in the right situations, the right place. It's been a blast.”

Engram’s big game in the Jaguars’ 36-22 victory over the Tennessee Titans featured career highs in catches (11) and yards (162) in a game to go along with two touchdowns. That gives him 53 catches for 548 yards in 13 games. He’s just the fourth tight end in franchise history to surpass 50 catches, and he’s on pace to become just the second tight end to hit 60.

The first was Kyle Brady, who owns franchise single-season records for most catches (64) and receiving yards (729), both of which were set in 2000.

Engram, the Giants' 23rd overall pick in the 2017 draft out of Ole Miss, wasn’t aware of how good of a season he’s having in relation to past Jaguars tight ends -- he's on pace to catch 69 passes for 716 yards -- nor is he concerned with what that potentially means in terms of contract dollars beyond this season. Thinking about any of that doesn’t serve any purpose, he said.

“I’m a big in-the-moment guy, big on staying present and just putting in the work, and the results will take care of itself,” Engram said. “I just want to contribute to winning. We’ve had our ups and downs and we've won some big games. We’ve had some adversity. Each week, each day I just come in and just put the work in to contribute to success.

“Sunday was a big, fun day and that kind of did a lot for the numbers, but I just want to come in and help the team win. It's definitely cool to have an impact on this franchise. That's what I do all the work for, because winning does that at the end of the day.”

Engram said he signed with the Jaguars because of Pederson and the way he created mismatches by moving Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert and Trey Burton around when he was the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 2016-20.

Pederson has done it with Engram, too. Per NFL Next Gen Stats, Engram has run 196 routes after lining up in the slot, the fourth-most among NFL tight ends. More than half of his receptions (27) have come when he’s lined up in the slot.

Pederson was expecting Engram to make that kind of impact in the passing game, but he has gotten more than he initially expected out of Engram in the run game.

“I think the more I’ve had him here [he’s seen that] he’s definitely a really good blocker,” Pederson said. “He’s not a big guy (6-3, 240), but at the same time, he prides himself and he wants to be physical. He does whatever it takes to win. If it means one week he has to block, he’s going to do that. I appreciate that, because then he’ll have a game like Sunday when we get to throw him the football and that’s kind of the reward."

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, whose locker is next to Engram’s, was almost as excited as Engram after his big game against the Titans. He said he’s been impressed with the way Engram has carried himself this season and appreciates the relationship the two have forged through some ups and downs in 2022.

“He’s one of my favorite teammates, just the way he prepares, the way he works,” Lawrence said. “I don’t think there’s a guy who practices harder than Evan. He’ll take all the reps in practice then he’ll run 10, 12 routes after practice almost every day and does some blocking drills, too.

“He’s filled a role that we’ve really needed and just the matchups that he’s been able to create, then even in the run game, he’s a great blocker. That hasn’t necessarily shown up in the stat sheet every week, but for it to pay off, I know that feels good for him because he’s a team guy.”