There have been plenty of “what if’s?” and “what’s next?” comments, following the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, with many fans believing that he will return like the prodigal son, Tom Brady. But what if he doesn’t? And now, what do we do? I will tell you right now that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Cade Otton in the 4th round of the 2022 NFL Draft for a reason. He is good. Is he Gronk? “F” no. But many of you may not know that just a couple of years ago he was considered the third-best tight end in college football. Otton had foot surgery and faded away to obscurity, well, not according to Tampa, who saw the opportunity to score big talent. The team believes that Otton, alongside a veteran tight end, like Cameron Brate or another, will work to the Buccaneers’ favor. He’s no Gronk, but he’s also no bum.
So, what about all the other rumors and suggested tight ends everyone is talking about?
It’s true. The Buccaneers are doing what they should be doing and looking into other options; several, in fact. One name that I was told to be on the lookout for has me intrigued. Jimmy Graham. Now, I know he played in the division for a most-hated rival, and he’s got a lot of football miles on him, but no one can discount what this man has accomplished in his career:
- First-team All-Pro (2013)
- Second-team All-Pro (2011)
- 5× Pro Bowl (2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)
- NFL receiving touchdowns leader (2013)
Graham, in his 12 seasons, has recorded 713 regular-season receptions for 8,506 yards and 85 touchdowns. Yeah, thats 780 fewer yards than Gronk and 7 fewer touchdowns, but Gronk had 247 more receptions in the regular season. Math is going to math, but would the player play?
Last season Gronk recorded 55 receptions in 12 games for 802 yards and 6 TDs as opposed to Jimmy Graham, who played in 15 games, 6 of them starting, caught just 14 catches for 167 yards and 3 TDs — of course, Gronk had been Brady’s main man for 11 seasons — that, coupled with his talent, is a recipe for success. But could Brady find a rhythm with Avatar that they can dance to? I think they both would shuck and jive us straight into victories. As for the other TEs I was let in on, I’ll let your mind wander. Some are certainly capable guys and would do great in this offense. Heck, they could announce that we’ve agreed to terms with one of them today or we just keep on trucking with Cade Otton paired with Brate. The Bucs do have a pretty good list of guys, even if you’ve never heard of them. But just as many of us know, the team isn’t afraid to take a swing for the fences, even if the team isn’t exactly in dire straights. Licht and Company surely are the Sultans of Swing.