Three tight ends received the franchise tag ahead of Tuesday's deadline -- the Dolphins' Mike Gesicki, the Cowboys' Dalton Schultz and the Browns' David Njoku -- siphoning off the top of the position ahead of free agency.
With the trio off the market, teams in need of tight ends will have to look elsewhere to find an answer at a position that is becoming more prominent in the passing game.
One beneficiary of the TE tags could be New York Giants tight end Evan Engram.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that teams have been inquiring about Engram as a slot receiver as well as a tight end, per sources informed of the situation.
Clubs believe Engram's ability as a pass catcher adds to his value in free agency.
The past two years, Engram spent most of his snaps in the slot -- 362 snaps in the slot in 2021; 345 in 2020 per Next Gen Stats.
With teams viewing tight ends differently in recent years, lines between certain tight ends and wide receivers have blurred -- it's why Gesicki could appeal his franchise tag status, claiming he's more of a WR than TE.
A 2017 first-round pick out of Mississippi, Engram has always owned talent as a pass catcher, but he's been woefully inconsistent in five seasons in New York. After a rookie campaign with 64 catches for 722 yards and six TDs, Engram hasn't improved, never again reaching those figures the next four years. Drops and lack of concentration have plagued the tight end, as have injury concerns.
There is no doubt that Engram possesses the raw ability to play a flex TE position and create mismatches. However, for a team to invest in Engram in free agency, it'll have to believe its coaching staff can be the one to finally unlock that talent, keep him focused and put him in the right situations to succeed. It wouldn't be the first time a team with a high draft grade on a player sought him on the open market, believing it could finally solve the puzzle of a head-scratching career.