Peppers, drafted 25th by the Cleveland Browns, would earn roughly $6.8 million in 2021 if his option is exercised. Engram, drafted 23rd by the Giants, would earn roughly $6 million. In my view, it seems obvious that the Giants should pick up both, keeping them under contract through the 2021 season.
“We’ll make the decisions this coming week,” GM Dave Gettleman said at the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft. “With the craziness on and off the field so to speak over the last six weeks, we’ve had preliminary conversations. We’ll make those decisions pretty quick.”
Despite my acknowledged preference for keeping both players under contract through 2021, there are complicating factors for both players.
In the case of Engram, that is purely about health. In three years in the NFL, he has yet to play a full season. Engram’s number of games played has declined each year, 15 in 2017, 11 in 2018 and only 8 in 2019.
The 25-year-old is rehabbing a season-ending foot injury and due to the league shutdown caused by COVID-19 the Giants right now have no idea where Engram is in his recovery.
“I haven’t seen him. None of us have been in the building in over a month. As far as I know, he’s doing fine. That’s all I know,” Gettleman said on Saturday.
Engram, of course, is a dynamic play-maker when healthy. He adds a dimension of speed and difficulty for defenses to match up with that no other tight end on the current Giants’ roster offers.
How do the Giants value him, though, when he hasn’t been consistently available?
In the case of Peppers, there are a few factors. The fact that the Giants, pre-coach Joe Judge, acquired him as a central piece in the deal when they dealt Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns. There is also the unknown of how Judge and new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham view Peppers’ skill set and how they would plan to utilize him.
In any case, decisions on Engram and Peppers are the next major ones on the Giants’ docket. We should know soon what they choose to do.