Tampa Bay Buccaneers are likely to enter the market for a tight end of veterans.
After Rob Gronkowski’s retirement started tight, the Buccaneers have a big gap in this position. Project veteran Cameron Brate is a fresh starter, but he hasn’t started full-time since the 2016 season when he started 10 of his 15 appearances.
In fact, Brate forms better as a backup tight finish or a starter while sharing reps with a more viable option. The Athletic’s Greg Auman offers some tight finishing options the Buccaneers could pursue in free agency and he believes a two-time Pro Bowl finisher Kyle Rudolph is the “most logical match” for Buccaneers.
“The tight finish of the 32-year-old Vikings may be the most logical match for the Bucs,” says Auman. “From 2015 to 2019, he had a total of 30 tackles for Minnesota, but he has only had one in each of the last two seasons, playing for the Giants last year and finishing with 26 catches. ball for 257 yards. At 6-6.265 pounds, he’s the size of Gronkowski and can block as well as catch, and that all-around is perhaps the most important asset in a potential replacement. “
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Rudolph’s full resume includes 2 Pro Bowls
Rudolph spent the previous season with the New York Giants, but is best known for his 10-season tenure with the Minnesota Vikings. The 32-year-old landed the Pro Bowl (2012, 2017) in Minnesota, serving as the team with a tight start from 2012 until his departure after the 2020 season.
At his peak, Rudolph made 83 touchdowns for 840 yards and seven touchdowns in the 2016 campaign, while he persisted with the Giants in his only season there. – 16 appearances, 13 starts – he was a cover of his former self, making just 26 contacts for 257 yards and one touchdown.
However, Rudolph can provide value to a team like the Buccaneers while sharing snaps with Brate. Rudolph scored a respectable 63.5 attack, 62.9 pass and 59.5 save last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Those levels are all higher than Brate’s product from last season, with the Bucs’ tight level producing a 57.0 attack level and a 46.7 pass blocking level.
Why the Bucs should consider signing Rudolph
That’s not even mentioning the fact that Rudolph created 73.8 pass blocks with the Vikings most recently in the 2020 season. In terms of perspective, the 2021 Giants are one of the more dysfunctional teams in the league season. Prior to that, a 4-13 record and 30th in the league for pass blocking with a score of 52.9.
In other words, if Rudolph plays in a more stable environment like Tampa Bay – the Buccaneers lead the league in passing points at 81.3 – then he has the potential to contribute as a superb saver and a good catching plan.
Aside from Brate, the other Buccaneers tight-ended picks are rookies Cade Otton (fourth pick) and Ko Kieft (sixth pick). Kieft is primarily a tight stopper, while Otton possesses the ability to one day replace Gronkowski. However, the 23-year-old never posted more than 32 hits, 344 receive and 3 touchdowns in a single season at the University of Washington. Furthermore, he played just over eight games in a single season once during his four years of college.
The signing of a reliable and enduring veteran late in the game gives the Bucs the best chance to fill the huge void left by Gronkowski’s departure. Signing a proven tight finish like Rudolph helps accomplish that task.
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