Keep or Kick, Vol. 1 - Bobby Engram

Over the month of February, Seahawks.NET will be taking an in-depth look at the future prospects of every 2006 Seahawks player who currently enjoys Restricted or Unrestricted Free Agent status. In our first installment of "Keep or Kick?", Doug Farrar explores the case for and against wide receiver Bobby Engram.

Bobby Engram
Wide Receiver - 5'10", 188 pounds
2007 Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
2007 Age: 34
2007 Service: 11 years

Year

Team

G

GS

Rec

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

20+

40+

1st

2006

Seattle Seahawks

7

6

24

290

12.1

25

1

6

0

15

CAREER

142

89

504

6054

12.0

79

29

67

9

333

In March of 2003, Engram signed a four-year, $6 million contract with the Seahawks. Selected in the second round of the 1996 draft out of Penn State by the Chicago Bears, he has been with Seattle since 2001. Over the past four seasons, he has proven to be worth every single penny of that deal and then some. In 2003, he enjoyed what was at the time his finest season in Seattle with 52 catches for 637 yards and a career-high six touchdowns. 2004 saw him miss three games with an ankle injury, but he still led the team in yards per catch with a 13.9 per-catch average.

SEATTLE - JANUARY 06: Bobby Engram #84 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the ball and is followed by Bradie James #56 of the Dallas Cowboys during the first quarter of the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game on January 6, 2007 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Then, his 2005. In the greatest team season in Seahawks history, Engram was the rock. Along with Joe Jurevicius, he held things together despite his own three-game hiatus due to broken ribs. He led the team in receptions (67) and reception yards (778) while star wideout Darrell Jackson missed nine games and sat out the season-ender. Engram was a crucial part of the Seahawks' first Super Bowl berth. He adjusted to position changes, moving out of the slot for the first time in years and excelling right away.

2006 proved to be his toughest NFL season, as Engram missed nine games with a virus and Graves' Disease, a condition which caused a hyperactive thyroid, an accelerated heartbeat and fatigue. He was diagnosed in late October and didn't catch another pass until the December 24 loss to the San Diego Chargers. However, he finished strong with six catches for 93 yards in his last two regular-season games, four catches for 88 yards in the wild-card playoff win over Dallas, and three catches for 32 yards in the overtime divisional loss to Chicago.

The Case For: Engram is still an extremely valuable possession receiver. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who has suffered through years of drop-happy receivers and tight ends, has always known that if he really needs a play over the middle on third down, he can throw an eight-yard inside slant to #84, and #84 will actually Catch The Damn Ball. He's a legendary drive-extender, and Hasselbeck will need that reliability with several possible personnel adjustments in his receiver corps.

The Case Against: With Deion Branch, Darrell Jackson and D.J. Hackett all fighting for first-team reps, one has to wonder what sort of contract the Seahawks will offer Engram. Mike Holmgren has gone on record as saying that he wants the receiver back, but it will have to be at someone's expense - most likely Engram's. The Seahawks don't have the kind of offensive line that allows four-wide sets all the time, which they found out last year with disastrous results. It's possible - though not necessarily probable - that the Seahawks could set a number for Engram, in years or dollars, and get outbid for his services. If that happens, Matt Hasselbeck will hit the new season without a major security blanket, and the second-tier depth Seattle spent so much for at the receiver position with Deion Branch now occupying one of the spotlights will be lost.

Keep or Kick? Keep. In terms of sheer talent and future impact, there's little doubt that Hackett is the bigger priority. But players like Engram - the under-the-radar guys who show up in crucial times and get things done - are indispensable cogs in championship machines. The Seahawks are in a position to overlook his recent injury history, and they have the cap space available to tender an attractive one- or two-year deal. This they should do, without hesitation.


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