Sunday, June 26, 2022

Bucs could land five-time Pro Bowl tight end: Analysis

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -


With Rob Gronkowski’s future still uncertain, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be chasing a former rival tight end.

Jimmy Graham, 35, played against the Bucs for five seasons in the 20210s as a member of the New Orleans Saints. Graham remained a force with the Seattle Seahawks and had more productive years with the Green Bay Packers. The 6-foot-7 tightend’s career accomplishments include five Pro Bowls, an All-Pro First Team appearance and 85 touchdowns.

Graham remains a free agent after a lackluster 2021 season with the Chicago Bears, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still produce. Graham caught a game-winning touchdown in Seattle last season. He’s also a year away from an eight-touchdown season in 2020.

Graham had an overall effective 2020 season, catching 50 passes for 456 yards and eight touchdowns. That happened when Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky shared time at quarterback.

The Bears turned to Andy Dalton and rookie Justin Fields in 2021, and they combined for 15 touchdown passes. The Bucs demolished the Bears 38-3 last season.

Graham’s slump in production can’t be ignored either. He tallyed 14 receptions for 167 yards and three touchdowns in 2021. However, he still averaged 11.9 yards per catch, his career average.

However, it could take a significant chunk of the Bucs’ remaining $10.4 million per Spotrac salary cap space to sign Graham. He just landed a two-year, $16 million deal in Chicago via Spotrac.

The latest Bucs news straight to your inbox! Join this Heavy on Buc’s newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Bucs!

Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, who may be entering his senior year with the Bucs, previously found a tight end with a veteran journeyman. Brady did that with Martellus Bennett in 2016 with the New England Patriots before winning Super Bowl LI.

Bennett performed in Gronkowski’s absence for half the season, and Bennett caught 55 passes for 701 yards and seven touchdowns, and he averaged 12.7 yards per catch. All of those numbers were improvements for Bennett over his previous season in Chicago.

If Gronkowski doesn’t return for 2022, the Bucs have no tight end other than Cameron Brate, who has produced significant numbers on the field. Notably, Brate had just twice as many receptions as Graham and one more touchdown than him in 2021.

After Brate, the Bucs have the tight end of Codey McElroy, who has appeared in two NFL games. The Bucs also have a slew of newcomers in Cade Otton, Ko Kieft, Ben Beise and JJ Howland.

Otton, a fourth-round draft pick from Washington, was particularly absent from off-season training sessions due to injury. He hasn’t posted dominant pass-catching stats in Washington, having never played an 11-game season more than once. His season highlights consisted of 32 receptions for 344 yards in 2019 and his three touchdown seasons in 2018 and 2020.

McElroy and Kieft are viewed more as blockers. Bucs head coach Todd Bowles said he liked what McElroy showed in minicamp but needed to see more in training camp. Kieft, a sixth-round draft pick, focused on blocking in Minnesota and was barely targeted in the passing game.

With five weeks left before the Bucs begin training camp, Gronkowski’s future is up in the air. He said in April he would play for the Bucs if he returned, but there has been no public advancement since. Brady and Bowles also didn’t suggest a decision from Gronkowski’s side one way or the other.

CONTINUE READING: Bucs wideout named in proposed trade with Ravens

With five weeks left before the Bucs begin training camp, Gronkowski’s future is up in the air. He said in April he would play for the Bucs if he returned, but there has been no public advancement since. Brady and Bowles also didn’t suggest a decision from Gronkowski’s side one way or the other.

- Advertisement -
Latest news
- Advertisement -
Related news
- Advertisement -

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here