Who will play tight end for the New York Giants in 2022?

New York Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants have made some crucial moves to clear up cap space over the past two weeks. Outside of the restructuring of Blake Martinez and Sterling Shepard’s contracts, the Giants have cut some players to clear cap space. In particular, the Giants have released two tight ends in an effort to become more financially healthy. With Evan Engram unlikely to be re-signed, who will play tight end for the Giants in 2022?

Finding a new tight end

Mo Alie-Cox is a veteran tight end with a well-rounded skill set that could make him a perfect fit in Brian Daboll’s new offensive scheme. The Indianapolis Colts utilized Mo Alie-Cox in a 12-personnel heavy offense that featured him alongside Jack Doyle. With Doyle’s retirement announced this week, Mo Alie-Cox could be a priority re-signing for the Colts. But if he manages to hit free agency, the Giants should consider making Alie-Cox their top priority.

Hayden Hurst was a first-round pick with the Baltimore Ravens in 2018. Hurst, however, was quickly overshadowed by Mark Andrews, who has turned into one of the best tight ends in the NFL in recent years. This led the Ravens to trade Hurst to the Atlanta Falcons in 2020. Hurst has caught nine touchdown passes in two seasons with Atlanta.

Hayden Hurst has had a solid NFL career, being a consistently average-to-above tight end in the league. But the reason that Hurst makes so much sense for the Giants is a crucial coaching connection. The Giants hired tight ends coach Andy Bischoff this offseason. For Hayden Hurst’s first two career seasons, Bischoff was the tight ends coach for the Baltimore Ravens. Hayden Hurst could team back up with Andy Bischoff and return to form with the New York Giants.

The 2022 NFL Draft could also be an option for the Giants to find a new tight end. General manager Joe Schoen has a history of finding tight end talent in the middle rounds of the draft. In 2019, the Buffalo Bills drafted Dawson Knox in the third round of the draft. Joe Schoen could look to repeat history and find the New York Giants’ next tight end in the middle rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Giants News: Riley Dixon cut, Evan Engram drawing interest at new position

New York Giants, Graham Gano

The New York Giants are slowly but surely working their way toward a positive cap situation, sitting at -$7.6 million before releasing punter Riley Dixon on Thursday. They will have about $-4.8 million afterward.

Dixon was preparing to earn $3.1 million for the 2022 season, but the Giants had an opportunity to recover $2.8 million in salary, paying just $320K in dead money.

The Giants were always going to execute the option of releasing Dixon, especially coming off of a disappointing 2021 season when he struggled to pin the football inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. His inconsistent punting and massive salary hit made the decision easy for new general manager Joe Schoen.

Per Giants.com, Dixon enjoyed some success with the Giants, but ultimately, his accuracy struggled in 2021:

In 65 games, Dixon had a 45.2-yard gross average and a 40.6-yard net average on 279 punts. He placed 101 kicks inside the 20-yard line and had three punts blocked.

Dixon owns the Giants’ two highest single-season net punting averages since that became an official statistic in 1976 with 42.0 yards in 2019 and 41.8 yards in 2018.

Teams are calling on Evan Engram, but at a new position:

Ever since being drafted back in 2017, Evan Engram has been a polarizing player for the Giants. He has been plagued with drops his entire career, recording an 11.3% drop rate in 2020 and 8% in 2021. His inability to haul in fastballs in the short portion of the field made him a liability, especially since the Giants’ offensive line struggled and Daniel Jones was forced to get rid of the football quickly.

However, teams aren’t looking at Engram as a potential tight end moving forward, they view him as a slot receiver, a position the Giants did utilize him more frequently in this past year. Engram spent 353 snaps in the slot, which accounted for 69.5% of his snap count.

After signing Kyle Rudolph to feature as their primary in-line tight end, Engram was asked to do more receiving thank blocking, but he struggled as injuries mounted and Jones struggled without proper pass-blocking.

It is about time Engram tests his luck with another team, especially after years of difficulty with Big Blue.

3 free agent tight ends the Giants could target to replace Evan Engram

mo alie cox, giants, colts

The New York Giants have not yet closed the door on bringing tight end Evan Engram back for the 2022 season. However, after four disappointing seasons, it would not be surprising to see the Giants move on from the 2017 first-round pick and look for a replacement. Free agency starts up next week, and there are a few tight ends that New York could potentially target to replace Evan Engram.

Three tight ends the New York Giants could target in free agency:

High-end option: Zach Ertz

Giants fans should be familiar with tight end Zach Ertz. Ertz spent the 2021 season in the desert with the Arizona Cardinals, but he spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants fell victim to many Zach Ertz touchdowns in big division-rivalry games over the years. Now they could attempt to turn Ertz to the light side.

Zach Ertz was a three-time consecutive Pro Bowl selection during the prime of his career in Philadelphia. He might not be that same high-caliber player, but Ertz is still bound to earn a pretty penny in this free agency period. In 2021, Zach Ertz played in 17 games with two teams, totaling 763 yards on 74 receptions with five touchdowns. This was a real bounce-back after an injury-plagued 2020 season that saw Ertz post career-lows in nearly every statistic.

Zach Ertz is 31-years-old, but he’s still got it. Ertz is a quality starter at the tight end position that would serve as an instant upgrade in the New York Giants’ offense. However, Ertz should have a decent market of teams interested in his services, pushing his potential price tag over the $10 million yearly average and potentially out of New York’s budget.

Mid-end option: Mo Alie-Cox

Considering their current salary cap situation, Mo Alie-Cox might still be out of the Giants’ price range. But if New York is going to pay up for a tight end during this free agency period, Alie-Cox might be the perfect target. Mo Alie-Cox is a veteran tight end with a well-rounded skill set that could make him a perfect fit in Brian Daboll’s new offensive scheme.

The Indianapolis Colts utilized Mo Alie-Cox in a 12-personnel heavy offense that featured him alongside Jack Doyle. With Doyle’s retirement announced this week, Mo Alie-Cox could be a priority re-signing for the Colts. But if he manages to hit free agency, the Giants should consider making Alie-Cox their top priority.

Mo Alie-Cox has the ability to impact the game as both a receiver and a blocker. This falls right in line with the Giants’ plans, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the NY Post. Dunleavy explains that the Giants are planning on moving on from both of their 2021 fullbacks where the thought is “to acquire a tight end who offers H-back flexibility.” Alie-Cox’s blocking abilities give him that flexibility.

In 2021, Mo Alie-Cox recorded 24 receptions for 316 yards and 4 touchdowns in a two-tight end system. He is a solid receiver with YAC ability. A player with talents like these will not be cheap, but given his lack of statistical productivity, Mo Alie-Cox could potentially be signed for a contract around $6-7M per year – a price that the Giants could reach if they deem a versatile tight end necessary.

Low-end option: OJ Howard

In 2017, three tight ends were drafted in the first round. Evan Engram, who seems bound to move on from the Giants, is a coveted free agent this year. David Njoku received the franchise tag from the Browns this week after a successful start to his career. But OJ Howard has struggled to get his footing at the professional level and is now looked at as a low-budget free agent this offseason.

OJ Howard is one of those potential low-risk, high-reward free agents. Howard did not reach his full potential with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but is the potential to become a quality starter still there?

Signing OJ Howard would likely be an inexpensive proposition. A one-year deal worth under $5M is a probable projection for Howard. The 2017 first-round pick totaled only 14 receptions for 119 yards and 1 touchdown as Rob Gronkowski’s backup in 2021. Howard has flashed talent and potential in the past, though, as he racked up 565 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2018. The Giants could bank on brian Daboll unlocking OJ Howard’s hidden talent with an inexpensive “prove-it” deal this offseason.

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Evan Engram named New York Giants biggest free agent for 2022

New York Giants, Evan Engram

It’s well known by now that the New York Giants are dealing with salary cap trouble. The cap wasn’t managed well under Gettleman, with the Giants spending a lot of money without much return. As a result, it’s clear that new general manager Joe Schoen can’t afford to pay everyone and some decisions will have to be made soon.

One of those decisions that’s drawing the most attention is the one around Evan Engram. The tight end has been many things for the Giants, since they acquired him. He’s been a promising prospect, an injury prone player that couldn’t stay on the field, and at other times a disappointment who drops the ball in key moments.

The new management of the Giants will have to examine Engram’s past and decide whether it’s worth keeping him around for the future, at a high price given the current cap situation.

According to Pro Football Focus, Engram is the best Giants player set to enter free agency. When placed on a league-wide list, Engram came in at number 73.

73. TE Evan Engram, New York Giants

The Giants reportedly rebuffed several requests from other teams to trade for 2017 first-round tight end Evan Engram ahead of each of the past two trade deadlines, but it remains to be seen if he is truly in their long-term plans. Engram’s 4.4 speed at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds is enough to keep teams monitoring his situation, even as his overall and receiving grades have declined in each of the past four seasons. An anemic Giants offense that ranks 30th in expected points added per pass play since 2020 certainly didn’t help his cause.

Headed into free agency, Engram will certainly be a controversial player in the court of public opinion.

On one side, some will point out the flashes of potential he’s shown and claim the Giants won’t get a better receiving tight end elsewhere. Others will point to the moments when Engram slipped up in big moments and cost his team.

There’s no sign yet which side of the fence Joe Schoen falls on in this argument. But with Engram likely being the highest profile free agent for the Giants right now, it’s quite possible they could be priced out on him regardless of what the new front office wants to do.

The New York Giants have a tight end dilemma entering 2022

New York Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants seem to have a dilemma at the tight end position entering the 2022 offseason. Evan Engram is set to be a free agent and it seems likely that Kyle Rudolph will be cut as well. With that being the case, the Giants will need to make a decision on who will start at tight in the 2022 regular season.

Moving on from 2021’s tight ends

Since he was drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Evan Engram has failed to live up to expectations. Engram’s career has been summarized with dropped passes in key situations and injuries that keep him off the field during big games. The fanbase has turned on the Ole Miss alum, and it seems as though it may be in the best interest of both parties for Evan Engram to find a new home.

The Giants’ second tight end, Kyle Rudolph, is almost inevitably going to be released this season. Rudolph’s 2021 season was unproductive and plagued by injuries. Releasing their backup tight end would free up $5 million in cap space for New York. The Giants are nearly $10 million over the cap right now, so they need to make this move.

What will the Giants do at tight end in 2022?

With their two starting tight ends from the 2021 season likely on their ways out, what should the Giants do at the position in 2022? There are plenty of options for the Giants at tight end this offseason. Free agency is loaded up with veteran talents at the position. One name to keep an eye on is Hayden Hurst.

Option one: Hayden Hurt and free agency

Hayden Hurst was a first-round pick with the Baltimore Ravens in 2018. Hurst, however, was quickly overshadowed by Mark Andrews, who has turned into one of the best tight ends in the NFL in recent years. This led the Ravens to trade Hurst to the Atlanta Falcons in 2020. Hurst has caught nine touchdown passes in two seasons with Atlanta.

Hayden Hurst has had a solid NFL career, being a consistently average-to-above tight end in the league. But the reason that Hurst makes so much sense for the Giants is a crucial coaching connection. The Giants hired tight ends coach Andy Bischoff this offseason. For Hayden Hurst’s first two career seasons, Bischoff was the tight ends coach for the Baltimore Ravens.

Hayden Hurst could team back up with Andy Bischoff and return to form in New York. The Giants need more consistency out of the tight end position running Brian Daboll’s eleven-personnel offensive scheme. Hayden Hurst could give the Giants that consistency, working in tandem with Andy Bischoff.

There are other veteran options available this offseason that could entice the Giants. Outside of Hayden Hurst, players like OJ Howard, Mike Gesicki, Robert Tonyan, and Eric Ebron could make sense for New York.

Option two: Jeremy Ruckert and the NFL Draft

Jeremy Ruckert out of Ohio State is an exciting NFL Draft prospect that makes perfect sense for the New York Giants. Ruckert is a willing blocker with solid receiving skills. His playing style is similar to that of Mark Andrews, the Ravens tight end that Andy Bischoff helped develop into one of the league’s best.

Jeremy Ruckert has all the tools to be a top tight end in the NFL with the right coaching. He is a projected round 2-3 selection and could be the starter in 2022 if drafted by the Giants. Additionally, names like Jake Ferguson (Wisconsin), Cole Turner (Nevada), and Charlie Kolar (Iowa State) could be middle-round options for the New York Giants at tight end.

New York Giants: Evan Engram responds to boos, being cheered off field

New York Giants, Evan Engram

Despite hopes that things might improve this season, it looks like the cycle is continuing for New York Giants tight end Evan Engram. Each season it’s looking more like a change of scenery would benefit both the player and the team, and that idea is backed up by the outcome in Engram’s 2021 season debut.

The performance saw Engram record 2 receptions after coming back from injury, but it was spoiled by a fumble that quickly reignited complaints about Dave Gettleman’s decision to keep the tight end rather than trading him.

This negative reception showed up both online and at MetLife Stadium itself – Engram found himself becoming the target of boos, and it went as far as the fans cheering when he was substituted off the field.

Even with the increase in negativity, Engram has kept a cool head about the situation.

Evan Engram responds to being cheered off field

“Obviously, it’s not ideal and it’s something you don’t want to see or hear. But, that’s my focus – is playing better football for my teammates and my team and giving the fans and our supporters something to cheer about and something to be proud about on the field,” Engram said about the treatment from the fans.

At this point, it’s debatable whether the relationship between Engram and the fans will ever be a good one. Whether because of an injury history that has often kept him off the field, or because of drops and being involved in turnovers, a large part of the fanbase has written Engram off as a disappointment by now.

The remaining question is whether or not the front office and coaching staff will also come to see Engram as a disappointment compared to his draft position and expected role.

Engram, like Saquon Barkley, has proven himself to be a boom or bust player. He’s capable of putting up good numbers, such as in his rookie season when he scored six touchdowns or last season when he made the Pro Bowl with 654 receiving yards on 63 receptions.

But when he runs into problems, they tend to be bad. He only played 8 games in 2019 due to injury and missed the first two games of this season with a calf injury. Last season, Engram dropping a key pass from Daniel Jones played a massive part in the Giants losing to the Eagles – a loss that would come back to haunt the team after they narrowly missed out on the division title.

The Giants have tried making the Evan Engram experiment work for four full seasons. By now, they may be served better by tight ends with a lower ceiling who perform more consistently. There’s a strong argument that Engram fits better as a luxury player on a contending team, where the margins are often less tight and his problems would be less visible.

But whether the Giants do make the decision to trade Engram before the deadline or not, something that might not materialize simply because Engram’s trade value is significantly lower than it would have been a couple of seasons ago, it appears the tight end is still focused on his game first and foremost.

“I’ve been playing football for a long time. I’ve played in front of a lot of fans for a good amount of time. We’re trained to stay focused in between the lines. That’s the best way I tried to handle that yesterday was to stay in between the lines and stay in the game,” Engram told reporters.

Keeping that focus will likely get more challenging if there’s not a large step up on Engram’s part.

Should the New York Giants explore trade opportunities for Evan Engram?

New York Giants, Evan Engram

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram is arguably one of the team’s most polarizing players on offense. Making his season debut against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3, Engram posted just two receptions for 21 yards. His impact was minimal, as the Giants primarily relied on Kenny Golladay, reserve receiver Collin Johnson, and running back Saquon Barkley to carry the load.

With the team starting 0-3 on the season, the Giants have a few big decisions to make this year as they ponder the future. After spending an exorbitant amount of money this past off-season to maximize quarterback Daniel Jones’s rookie window, they will have to find ways to open up salary space.

One way the Giants can add draft capital and a bit more salary flexibility is by trading Engram, who is currently in the last year of his rookie contract. The Giants picked up his fifth-year option, which will pay him $6 million this season.

Having suffered a calf injury against the New England Patriots in the final preseason game, Engram was unable to play against Denver and Washington. However, the athletic tight end has become more of a liability than an asset.

Despite Engram’s blazing speed and fantastic physical attributes, he has dropped 25 passes over the past four seasons, including eight last year, with six of Jones’s 12 interceptions going his way. However, the 27-year-old was unable to make a positive impact against the Falcons on Sunday afternoon.

In fact, his biggest contribution was a fumble in the third quarter with the Giants trailing by one. If not for an Azeez Ojulari strip-sack on Matt Ryan on the Giants’ 35-yard line, Engram’s turnover would’ve been far more costly.

At this point in his career, the Giants simply need to maximize his value and collect draft capital. When fans are cheering as a player walks off the field, you know things are a bit overdone, as the former first-round selection has been unable to alleviate his turnover issues and drops. The bigger question is, what could the Giants get in return for his services?

New York Giants: Kenny Golladay and Evan Engram set to play

New York Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants, for the most part, haven’t had all of their weapons on the field at one time this season. While Saquon Barkley was able to come back in week 1, the Giants have dealt with a number of other injuries and names such as Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Evan Engram have either missed time or been at risk of doing so.

The big absence in the receiving game for the first two games of the season was Evan Engram. In a situation that will be familiar to Giants fans due to past experiences with Engram, the tight end entered the season with a calf injury and wasn’t present in either of their two losses. That is set to change in today’s game against Atlanta.

This will be Engram’s season debut, while Golladay and Toney on the other hand played in the first two games but ended up on the injury report after the Washington loss. Also appearing at tight end will be Kaden Smith, who was limited in practice earlier in the week but is expected to play.

The expectations may be a bit higher for the Giants on offense, as this is the first game where Jason Garrett will have all of his major weapons to work with. But not everyone on the field may be ready to go 100%.

Kenny Golladay may have to play with reduced snaps, which doesn’t look good for his numbers that are already considered low this season. The strong possibility that Golladay is limited combined with the fact that Kadarius Toney appears to be outside of the team’s immediate plans raises some questions about who will receive the bulk of the attention in the pass game.

But one thing is certain – the Giants will have more options in this department than they did in either opening game of the season.

New York Giants: Evan Engram out and Saquon Barkley questionable

New York Giants, Evan Engram

Even going into the second game of the season, the New York Giants might not have all of their offensive weapons on the field. The team was missing Evan Engram in the season opener and Engram was confirmed today as set to miss his second straight game with a calf injury from before the start of the season.

He’s not the only player that will miss the Thursday Night Football appearance against Washington. In slightly more minor news, special teamer Cam Brown and guard Shane Lemieux will also miss the game.

Saquon Barkley hasn’t been ruled out of the game like these other players. Despite that, he’s listed as questionable and there’s also no guarantee that he will play. While Barkley played in the opener, it’s clear that the staff are taking a cautious approach with him and that he wasn’t playing at his best while coming back from injury.

While some of the poor performance can be attributed to bad run blocking from the offensive line, a theory which is backed up by the lack of performance from alternative option Devontae Booker, Barkley ultimately didn’t utilize much of his unique skillset in the loss.

He looked like any replacement level running back in the league, and while Barkley himself refused to use his injury as a crutch, we may have to consider the possibility that his return was a bit too quick.

Devontae Booker is still waiting in the wings to take a larger role if Barkley is held back to recover longer before being brought back into the fold fully, but based on his own poor numbers from last Sunday, that may not be the most encouraging prospect for those hoping to see an improvement in the rushing attack against Washington.

New York Giants: Evan Engram sits on Thursday, Saquon Barkley close to 100 percent

New York Giants, Evan Engram

For much of the offseason, a fear was that the New York Giants could end up missing running back Saquon Barkley in their season opener. However, now that we’re only days away from that opener, it looks like a different player is likely to miss the week one matchup with Denver. That player is Evan Engram, who may once again have to sit out with an injury and this time miss the first game of the season.

It’s looking more and more like Engram will miss the game, and the latest evidence is his absence from practice on Thursday. On the Giants’ injury report for the day, a number of players were listed as limited – but Engram was notable for not participating entirely, and was the only player on that part of the list.

There is good news, however. While the Giants may not have Engram for the game, it looks at this point like they will have Saquon Barkley on the field. That’s been the feeling for the past week, but Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett made some statements on Thursday that might support the idea of Barkley getting back for week 1.

Garrett on Barkley getting back to 100 percent

“Yeah, a lot of confidence in him as a player and I think he’s done a great job to get himself back healthy and 100 percent,” Garrett said when asked by reporters whether Barkley was the same player he’d seen before.

With Barkley looking 100 percent in the eyes of the team’s offensive coordinator, it doesn’t seem like there’s much holding the player back at this point.

Losing Engram will be a blow to the offensive depth of the Giants for Sunday’s game, but the offense should still look like an improvement from what we saw in the preseason if Barkley and the team’s new additions at wide receiver play.

The offensive line will remain a point of contention for the foreseeable future and for good reason, but the Giants are far from uncompetitive with their first opponent of the season. Given the way the injury news is looking recently, the Giants should be able to put more weapons on the field than they’ve featured on any previous roster in years.