It would be understandable if Evan Engram looked at the Giants’ timing and allowed himself to wonder, “Why now?”
Why was he drafted on the heels of the Giants’ last winning season, forced to endure two failed rebuilds that resulted in the worst record in the NFL over a five-year span and not retained just before the winning streak began? But that’s not how Engram — who will start at tight end Sunday for the Jaguars against his former team — is wired.
“I couldn’t be more excited for them,” said Engram, who called Daniel Jones, Sterling Shepard and Saquon Barkley a few weeks ago to congratulate them on their fast start. “They’re finding ways to finish games that we never knew how to finish. Saquon played great, DJ is protected at the line, the defense is playing lights out. That the coaching staff, as they get to know them a little bit, they are rolling out. But they’re definitely looking to wear them down a bit this week.”
A favorite of former Giants head coach Joe Judge, Engram trained in the Giants’ facility for about two months after the end of last season and before his free agency opened in March. He met with general manager Joe Schoen, head coach Brian Daboll and tight ends coach Andy Bischoff to discuss his future.
“There were conversations. It didn’t really work out when it came to the negotiation stuff,” Engram told the Post. “I could [see] the reason they are succeeding now, just from the energy. There were some good conversations getting to know them, but when it came to free agency, I went in a different direction, I went with my gut.”
Engram’s career started with a bang — career highs of 64 catches for 722 yards and six touchdowns — as a rookie first-round pick in 2017. But the next four seasons were marred by injuries and dropped passes. unfair to him. -target area of fans.
“I’ve always lived knowing that everything happens for a reason,” Engram said. “I don’t look back with any regret or ill will. I definitely wish a lot of those games went differently, but I learned so much and grew so much. I don’t think I would have gotten to where I am mentally, physically, emotionally at this moment without those hard times. I’m blessed to have spent five years there, and I’m blessed by a new chapter, too. He wouldn’t change a thing about it – except maybe a few scores.”
The Jaguars spent about $260 million on free agents — including $9 million on Engram for his 24 catches for 208 yards through six games — and Super Bowl-winning coach Doug Pederson landed developing legendary backup quarterback Trevor Lawrence and cleaning up the mess he left behind. Urban Meyer shot.
“It’s been a year-long meal, betting on myself and trying to create progress with Doug coming in,” Engram said. “It was a big part of Doug, and the history of his offense was all very tough and those great years [former Eagles tight end] Zach Ertz was in this system. I didn’t know Trevor well, but I knew about his potential and talents. That was a big part too.”
The Giants retooled their tight end room with an emphasis on blocking, though the emerging fourth-round rookie has 15 catches for 139 yards and three total touchdowns from scrimmage. So maybe it was a win-win separation.
“I’m playing with confidence. I’m flying around. I love this coaching staff – they have to do a lot of things that match my skills,” Engram said. “The locker room is great: All the guys are locked in and easy together. We had some great wins and some learning experiences too. We’re on track to be a very good team, so I’m excited. We’ll see where he goes next season.”
Belief in the Jaguars (2-4) is strong enough that they are three-point favorites over the Giants (5-1).
“It’s going to be a little weird, but I think I’m used to watching them on TV and seeing their scores,” Engram said. “Obviously playing against them will be on a whole other level. I can’t wait to play in this game.”