There have been a lot of rumblings behind the scenes surrounding the future of New York Giants‘ tight end, Evan Engram. Should the Giants trade their dynamic pass catcher? That is an argument that’s gone back and forth amongst members of the media well for over a year now.
Fifth Year Option:
This past offseason, the Giants had to make a difficult decision surrounding Engram’s future with the team. Team officials had until May 4th to decide whether to exercise his fifth-year option or not.
On April 29th, with only five days to go before the deadline- the team finally came to a resolution. They decided it was in their best interest to pick-up Engrams fifth-year option- giving them contractual control over the former 2017 first-round pick until after the 2021 season. By exercising his option, the team will now pay Engram $1.9 million for 2020, and $6 million for the 2021 season.
When healthy, there is no debating Engram is amongst the most elite pass-catching tight ends in the entire league. At 6’3 240lb, he’s the fastest tight end in the NFL- evidence by running a 4.42 40 at the 2017 NFL combine. (Faster than former teammate Odell Beckham Jr- 4.43)
Unfortunately, for Engram and the Giants alike, injuries have been a prominent fixture during his tenure in New York. Through his first three seasons, Engram missed a total of 14-games- including eight in 2019. Since his arrival as the team’s first-round pick back in 2017, the Giants have compiled records of 8-29 with him, and 4-10 without.
Injury history aside, it made sense for the team to exercise his fifth-year option this offseason. If he remains’ healthy, they get one of the top tight ends in the game at a discounted rate. Should he struggle or find himself injured again, then the team isn’t breaking the bank to have him there.
There have been talks surrounding an Engram trade dating back to the 2018-19 offseason. At one point, it seemed as if talks were beginning to gain traction- with there being rumors of a potential second-round pick being the necessary compensation to part with the speedy tight end.
Pros vs Cons:
- When healthy, he’s a reliable pass catcher for young and developing quarterback
- Most explosive pass catcher on the entire team
- Good Size/Leaping Ability
- Can win 1-1 jump balls. Could be used as a viable red-zone target should the team maximize his physical gifts and decide to utilize him in that fashion
- Affordable contract through the 2021 season. (Will be 16th highest paid TE during ’21 season)
- Drops a lot of passes
- Poor injury history
- Well below average blocker
- Underachiever/Hasn’t come close to living up to potential
- Disappears for entire games at a time
- Going to want a contract extension with sizeable raise following the 2021 season
What Should They Do?
At this point in time, the Giants should look to trade Engram. While he may be a dynamic talent when healthy, that talent simply hasn’t translated to numbers on the field. Engram has continuously regressed from a statistical standpoint. He has been unable to replicate the success he had during his rookie year in which he set career highs in games played, receptions, yards, and touchdowns (15-G, 64/722/6).
This is a young team that should be focused on the future.
By trading Engram, the Giants would be completing the trifecta. They would:
- Acquire high-quality draft capital/developable assets
- Save between $10-14 million per season to re-allocate towards re-signing key players/free agents
- Not make a large investment on a player who would underperform his deal and hurt the franchise
How Should They Do It?
The Giants should take their time with the way they approach this. He is off to a sluggish start so far this season (3-G, 11rec/96yd/0TD), and is coming off a 2019 campaign in which he missed the final 8-games. Currently, his trade-stock is at an all-time low.
Should the Giants continue to lose, the most opportune time to move him would be a couple of weeks prior to the trade deadline. Should Evan Engram string together a few respectable weeks in a row, the team should sell high- immediately.
Let him raise his stock as much as possible to ensure the best possible return.
Contending teams may look to add some receiving help at the deadline. They will be more inclined to depart with higher draft picks if they feel that they are not just getting a half-year rental. Having Engram under team control at a discounted rate through 2021 will only aid the Giants in their efforts to receive the best possible compensation.
It’s Time To Move On
It is imperative for the Giants to move on from Evan Engram before this year’s trade deadline.
Acquiring quality draft capital and developing that young talent as quickly as possible is essential to their return to prominence. The more talented young players that they can quickly develop, the sooner things will get turned around on the field.
Trading Evan Engram at this stage of the season would not allow them to do so. The optimal time for a trade would be a week or two prior to the deadline- when contending teams begin to feel most desperate to make a move. The team should take the wait and see approach for now. Allowing him to improve his play will only increase their compensation should they make a deal.
Even if his play does not improve, they should still move on from him. At this juncture, it doesn’t appear that he is going to be a part of their future plans. Trading him this year will still allow them to hold the leverage in negotiations. Having him under contract in 2021 for a discounted price is a negotiating tool the Giants should not fall by the wayside.
Should they wait until next season, they will be forced to take whatever they can get for him. Their negotiating leverage will be gone. They will lose the appeal of a contending team having him for multiple postseason runs. Waiting until next year means he will become a 1-year rental piece, which drastically hurts his trade value even more. Teams will also be able to make low-ball offers and the Giants won’t have any room to counter. They will know the Giants won’t want to risk losing him in free agency for nothing in return.
The bottom line, it is time to move on from Evan Engram.