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Counting down the Top 5 Giants under the most pressure this season: No. 5 Evan Engram

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The 1970s were considered the low point for the historic Giants franchise with eight straight losing seasons to end the decade. At one point, from the mid-’60s to the early ’80s, their playoff drought lasted 17 years.

But as bad as that was, consider this: The only time in franchise history that they’ve lost 10 or more games five times in six seasons was over the last six years.

OK, they caught a break with the 14-game schedule for much of the ’70s, but you get the point. The recent history of the Giants is bad. Very bad. Historically bad. It caused John Mara to fire a coach and GM midseason in 2017, and he nearly blew the whole thing up again at the end of last year.

To say everyone is out of patience in the organization is an understatement. And if things fall apart again this year, nobody will be safe. Everyone in the organization is feeling the pressure and should feel the pressure this season.

Here’s the SNY countdown of the 5 Giants who should feel it the most.

The countdown begins at No. 5 …

Tight end Evan Engram

There aren’t many Jerry Reese draft picks that Dave Gettleman has kept in his 2 ½ years as the Giants general manager, but Evan Engram is a big one. The Giants love the size and speed he brings to the tight end position and the mismatches he can create. They believe he has the potential to be a dynamic weapon.

If only he could stay on the field.

That’s a huge question for the 6-3, 240-pounder after he missed half of last season with an injured foot that required surgery when the year was over. He was really starting to show something before he got hurt, with 44 catches for 467 yards and three touchdowns in just eight games. He was on pace for by far his best season in the league.

That potential is why the Giants picked up Engram’s fifth-year option for 2021 at $6 million. But keep in mind that money isn’t fully guaranteed until next March. Another injury-riddled season or even just a down year and the Giants could look elsewhere – perhaps even on their own roster at promising second-year pro Kaden Smith. And even if they keep Engram, any thought of a lucrative contract extension would be gone if he doesn’t prove he can stay healthy.

If he does, the payoff could be huge. Though it’s impossible tell what the Giants’ offense will look like due to this virtual offseason, consider how big a weapon tight ends were for the Cowboys under new Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. And if that’s not convincing enough, look at what tight ends have done in New England, where new coach Joe Judge spent the last eight seasons as an assistant.

There should be no doubt that if Engram is healthy, the opportunities will come.

The Giants need him to take advantage of that. When he’s on the field and a threat to go deep, it opens up the middle of the field for Saquon Barkley and diverts attention from the Giants’ three receivers. He also can be a huge, reliable target for young quarterback Daniel Jones. He should be a very important part of the Giants’ passing attack. They are better with him on the field.

So he needs to be there. A player with his measurables and talent will have a place in the NFL for a while. But if he can’t stay healthy and produce, it just won’t be as highly paid a place as it could have been.

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