Perhaps everything you need to know about the miserable, mostly ineffective New York Giants passing attack in 2021 can be summed up by this stat: The Giants did not have a single player catch 50 or more passes, with tight end Evan Engram topping the list with 46 catches.
Worse? Engram’s 46 catches and 408 receiving yards were — by far — the worst full-season totals of his career.
Let’s look at the tight ends as we continue our position-by-position reviews of the Giants.
2021 in review
Starters: Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph
Backups: Kaden Smith, Chris Myarick (now with Cincinnati Bengals)
IR: Levine Toilolo
Practice squad: Jake Hausmann
Engram played in 15 games. Rudolph, who caught 453 passes in 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, played in 16. Yet, even with a revolving door of wide receivers and Saquon Barkley sidelined for a quarter of the season the Giants never figured out how to weaponize the tight end position.
Engram had only two games all season with more than 50 receiving yards, and had a high of 61. In his first four seasons, he had 16 games with more receiving yards than that. Rudolph had a season-high 66 yards vs. the Los Angeles Chargers, with 60 coming on one play. Neither player was targeted more than six times in a game all season.
Engram suffered the indignity of being booed for being sent into the game after a costly Week 3 fumble against the Atlanta Falcons. While perhaps not wanting to make Engram the focal point of the passing attack, the Giants did not do a good job using the skills Engram has. He had career lows in yards after catch per reception (4.0) and average depth of target (5.3). Rudolph, signed partially to help the offense in the red zone, had just one touchdown catch. He was targeted eight times in the red zone with three catches.
Kaden Smith, the team’s third tight end, toughed his way through nine games while dealing with a knee injury that limited his practice time. He finally went on injured reserve.
Near the end of the season the Giants tried to sneak fourth tight end Chris Myarick to the practice squad, but he was claimed by the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Giants are likely headed for a reset at the tight end position.
Engram is headed to free agency after five sometimes tantalizing, sometimes terrifying, but generally unsatisfying seasons with the Giants after being selected in Round 1 (23rd overall) in the 2017 NFL Draft. Toilolo is also an unrestricted free agent. Smith is coming off an injury. Rudolph carries a $7.408 million cap hit. The Giants can save $5 million against the cap by cutting him, and there really isn’t any reason for them not to do that.
Perhaps Smith will be back, and healthy enough to contribute. Otherwise, you might look for a low-cost free agent or two and a Day 2 or Day 3 draft pick. Watch Chris Pflum’s prospect profiles for information on who those draft prospects might be.