GM Trent Baalke thinks contract discussion with Jags TE Evan Engram are heading in right direction
One of the biggest question marks for the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason has been the status of Evan Engram getting a long-term deal. However, on Thursday, Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke provided an update and told the media that the goal is to get Engram a new deal before training camp.
“That’s the goal," said Baalke at the Jags' draft luncheon. "The goal is to get this thing done. These negotiations always have ups and downs as you go through the process and you’re just trying to come to a common goal of getting him signed. I think we’re trending in that direction, but we’re not there yet. We’re continuing to work to get him signed to a long-term extension, and hopefully we can get that done.”
Engram was set to be the Jags' most notable free agent this spring, but the organization made it clear that they wanted to keep him on a long-term deal. They weren't able to come to a deal by the time free agency started on March 15 and decided to use the franchise tag on him instead, which is worth $11.345 million.
Engram signed with the Jags last year on a one-year prove-it deal for $9 million, and the decision to bet on himself was a wise one. He was a big-time contributor to the Jags' offense and was a weapon in the passing game for quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He ultimately ended the season with 73 receptions for 766 yards and four touchdowns, but his performance late in the season was especially strong. During the Jags' five-game win streak, Engram garnered 39 catches for 380 yards and two touchdowns.
If the Jags want to get a deal done with Engram, they will have until July 17 to strike one. If they aren't confident in their chances to do that, they could turn to this week's draft to add a tight end from a 2023 class that is loaded at the position. This was something Baalke also discussed on Thursday, though he said the team doesn't feel it's a necessity.
"We're going to look to build that room and get it as strong as we can," Baalke said. "We don't feel that it's an absolute necessity to add to that room, but if there's an opportunity to add to it, we will."
In the end, the Jags may sign Engram to a long-term deal and still draft a tight end. After letting two of the veterans from the group hit free agency in Dan Arnold and Chris Manhertz, that certainly would give fans some more confidence in the group heading into 2023.