Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement from football on Tuesday and with that, leaves a massive hole at tight end for Tampa Bay. While the team still does have Cameron Brate on the roster and they drafted two tight ends in Cade Otton and Ko Kieft, they are still in win now mode and could look to add someone else to the tight end room so they do not have to rely so much on younger players like Otton and Kieft.
So who might they add? The Athletic’s Greg Auman pointed out a few names that make sense and we are going to highlight those players here
Bucs' options to step in at tight end? Some of the best unsigned guys are even older than Rob Gronkowski: Kyle Rudolph (32), Jared Cook (35), Jimmy Graham (35), Eric Ebron (29).— Greg Auman (@gregauman) June 21, 2022
Let’s get into the options the Bucs have and how they might fit.
Rudolph, a longtime member of the Minnesota Vikings, spent last season with the New York Giants where he racked up 26 catches for 257 receiving yards and just one receiving touchdown. Combine a lackluster season and the fact that Rudolph is 32 years old, he should not cost much to add. Maybe there is more that the two time pro bowler has to offer to a contending team.
Possibly the best player on this list, Cook continues to find the fountain of youth at the age of 35 and is now back on the free agent market looking to find his sixth NFL team. Despite bouncing from team to team, Cook always finds ways to be a productive player and had over 500 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. He has had at least 500 receiving yards every season since 2017. The thing that Bucs fans will probably remember him best for his crucial fumble in the NFC divisional matchup as a member of the Saints in 2020. It would certainly be ironic if Cook would land in Tampa Bay.
Another option that would be ironic, Graham was once one of the premier tight ends in the league, but those days have been gone for a long time. While the 35 year old Graham is not the player he once was, he can still be productive, despite a rough season in Chicago this past year where he only managed to get 167 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Graham was labeled as a “Buc Killer” while with New Orleans, so it would be very interesting to see him land in Tampa Bay to help them compete for a championship.
Ebron is the youngest name on this list at 29 years old, but he potentially has the most risk attached to him. A former first round pick of the Detroit Lions, Ebron has shown flashes of talent including a pro bowl season in 2018 where had had 750 receiving yards and 13 touchdown catches. This past season was not kind to him though as he battled through injury and ended the season on IR with a knee injury. Due to the injury, he only managed to get 84 receiving yards and one touchdown. If his health checks out, the Bucs could look to take a chance on him.
So with a few quality names out there, the Bucs could find a productive replacement for Gronkowski. There is no replacing exactly what Gronk does and the chemistry he and Tom Brady have, but there are some good options available to Tampa Bay if they choose to explore them.