Tight end Evan Engram enjoyed a breakout campaign in his first season in Jacksonville, calling it "the best year of my life" and is hoping to remain a Jaguar.
With Engram set for free agency, Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke said Tuesday the feeling is mutual.
"Obviously, we would love to have Evan back," he said. "Evan and I visited yesterday, and he went around the building and visited with everybody. I think it's mutual. Now we got to make it happen. That's something that we're going to work on with Evan, and all the other free agents that we have. We have a list of them that we got to mow down one at a time."
After five roller-coaster seasons in New York, during which Engram flashed talent but was woefully inconsistent, he inked a one-year, $9 million contract in Jacksonville last offseason.
With Trevor Lawrence ascending at quarterback and finally in an offense that understood how to get him the ball in space, Engram shined. He generated a career-high 73 catches for 766 yards and four touchdowns this season. Yes, he still had an occasional case of the drops, but the 28-year-old became a pivotal playmaker in the Jags' offense.
In the Jags' final seven games of the 2022 campaign, including playoffs, Engram averaged 6.1 catches per tilt, 72 receiving yards, 11.7 yards per catch, and scored three TDs. In the wild-card win over the Chargers, the tight end led Jacksonville with seven catches for 93 yards and one touchdown.
Given the rapport he built with Lawrence, bringing the free agent back would be a savvy move for a Jags club needing speed at the skill positions. The franchise tag is one option for Jacksonville, projected to be around $11.4 million for tight ends in 2023. Several clubs used the tag on tight ends last year to keep them off the market.
Speaking generally about his free agent cast, which includes Engram, linebacker Arden Key and offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, among others, Baalke noted he hopes to refrain from utilizing the tag this season.
"I'm hoping we don't need to use it," he said. "Right now, we're evaluating this team as a staff. Doug (Pederson) and the rest of the coaches are going through an end-of-the-season process that we've set up. Our personnel staff is doing the same thing. We will join forces tomorrow and meet for most of the morning to really put a plan in place for how we're going to attack this offseason."
Baalke also noted that after last offseason's spending spree, he plans to be more frugal in free agency and focus on building out the Jaguars' core in the draft.