The Giants today announced they have picked up the fifth-year options on the rookie contracts of tight end Evan Engram and safety Jabrill Peppers, virtually ensuring they will be with the team through the 2021 season.
NFL teams are permitted to exercise the fifth-year option on first-round draft choices after they have played three years. When a player has his option exercised, his rookie contract is extended by one year and guaranteed. The player is protected against injury but isn’t eligible to enter unrestricted free agency until after the conclusion of the fifth season – for Engram and Peppers, that means after the 2021 season.
Engram, 25, was the 23rd overall selection of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Mississippi. In three seasons, he has played in 34 games with 25 starts. Engram has 153 receptions for 1,766 yards (11.5-yard avg.) and 12 touchdowns. He also has seven rushing attempts for 57 yards.
In 2019, Engram was limited to eight appearances and six starts due to injuries and caught 44 passes for 467 yards and three touchdowns. He missed the Oct. 10 Thursday night game in New England with a knee injury, returned to play in the next three games but hurt his foot against Dallas on Nov. 4 and missed the remainder of the season.
In the season opener in Dallas on Sept. 8, Engram finished with career-high totals of 11 receptions for 116 yards, including a one-yard touchdown. The receptions and yardage totals were the highest for a Giants tight end since Nov. 11, 2007, when Jeremy Shockey caught 12 passes for 129 yards in a home game vs. the Cowboys.
Two weeks later at Tampa Bay, Engram caught six passes for 113 yards. He was the first Giants tight end with multiple 100-yard games in a season since Shockey in 2005 (four).
On the first play of the second half against the Buccaneers, Engram caught a short Daniel Jones pass and turned it into a 75-yard touchdown. It was the Giants’ longest play since Sept. 24, 2017, when Eli Manning and Sterling Shepard hooked up for a 77-yard completion – like Engram’s play, a catch-and-long run.
Engram’s 75-yard touchdown reception was the longest ever by a Giants tight end. The previous long was a 71-yarder by Aaron Thomas vs. Philadelphia on Oct. 17, 1965.
The 75-yarder was also the longest reception of Engram’s career. His previous long catch was a 54-yarder last Nov. 18, also against Tampa Bay (in MetLife Stadium).
Engram also had six receptions against Minnesota on Oct. 6 and the Cowboys in his final game of the year.
Peppers, 24, was the Cleveland Browns’ first-round draft choice in 2017, the 25th overall selection. On March 13, 2019, he was traded to the Giants in the deal that sent Odell Beckham, Jr. to Cleveland.
In his three NFL seasons, Peppers has started all 40 games in which he has played. His career totals are 210 tackles (147 solo), three interceptions, 13 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and four recoveries.
Last season, Peppers started the first 11 games and was second on the Giants with 71 tackles (47 solo), just one less than fellow safety Antoine Bethea, when he suffered a fractured transverse process on his only kickoff return of the season at Chicago on Nov. 24. He was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 7.
Peppers still finished fourth on the team with 76 tackles (51 solo) and led the Giants with three forced fumbles.
On Sept. 29, Peppers scored the Giants’ first defensive touchdown of the season when he intercepted a Dwayne Haskins pass and returned it 32 yards to the end zone with 1:19 remaining in the third quarter vs. Washington. It was the Giants’ first defensive touchdown since their previous game vs. Washington on Dec. 9, 2018, when safety Curtis Riley picked off a Mark Sanchez pass that was tipped by linebacker Kareem Martin and returned it nine yards for a score.
The interception was the third and the touchdown the first of Peppers’ three-year career.