With Rob Gronkowski officially retired, the Buccaneers were in serious need of some help at tight end, and they added that help Wednesday night with the signing of Kyle Rudolph.
According to ESPN, the two-time Pro Bowler has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with Tampa Bay, which means Tom Brady now has another offensive weapon. Rudolph will add some major NFL experience to a tight room that was sorely lacking. Before his signing, the Buccaneers only had ONE tight end on the roster (Cameron Brate) who had more than one career catch. Besides Brate, the Buccaneers tight end group consists of two rookies (Cade Otton and Ko Kieft) and Codey McElroy, who has one career catch that came back in 2019.
Tampa Bay’s tight end spot took a major hit in June when Gronk. However, the Buccaneers didn’t go out and sign anyone to replace him right away, and that might have been because they were’t sure if he was actually going to stay retired. Over the past five weeks, both (Drew Rosenhaus) and (Camille Kostek) have both said they could see Gronk returning to football this year.
As for Gronk, he’s been insisting for the past month that he’s going to stay retired, and he double downed on those statements during a Wednesday appearance on “Good Morning America”.
“I won’t go back to football,” Gronk said. “I’m all set.”
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With Gronk sounding like he’s definitely done, the Buccaneers started showing some interest in Rudolph as recently as last week. In the end, Tampa Bay ended up signing Rudolph to a deal.
Rudolph is a long-time veteran who has been in the league for 11 years. His first 10 seasons came with the Vikings and during that time, he was voted to two Pro Bowls. In 2016, he led the team in touchdown catches (seven) and finished second in receptions (83).
After a decade in Minnesota, he moved on to New York in 2021, where he played one seasons with the Giants. Although Rudolph wasn’t great during his one year with the Giants last season, it’s hard to blame him for that since no one in that offense really thrived last year.
The 32-year-old has finished with at least 330 receiving yards in six of his past seven seasons, and if he can hit that number in Tampa, the Buccaneers would probably be happy. Rudolph, who has caught at least four touchdowns in five of his past seven seasons, could also turn into a red zone weapon for Brady.
Tampa Bay’s veteran players will be reporting to training camp on July 26, which means Rudolph signed just in time to join them.