Broncos Trade Former 4th-Round Pick to NFC Super Bowl Contender

Albert Okwuegbunam

Getty Denver Broncos TE Albert Okwuegbunam running out of the tunnel ahead of a game against the Arizona Cardinals.

While the Denver Broncos cut down their roster to 53 players, they’ve also been making some trades.

The Broncos made their decision on which tight ends they wanted to keep before the 2 p.m. deadline on August 29. Denver was going to waive tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, but then the phone rang.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Broncos were ready to turn his name into the league office until they got interest from the Philadelphia Eagles and eventually completed a trade sending Okwuegbunam to the defending NFC champions.

Per Schefter, the Broncos will send Okwuegbunam and a 2025 seventh-round pick to Philadelphia in exchange for a 2025 sixth-round pick.

There’s also a connection with Okwuegbunam and the Eagles, that’s Matt Russell.

Currently serving as a senior personnel executive for the Eagles, Russell was part of the front office that drafted Okwuegbunam in 2020 to the Broncos. It’s fair to say that Russell might’ve recommended the veteran tight end to Eagles general manager, Howie Roseman.

Why did the Broncos Want to Move on?

Entering training camp, some thought that Okwuegbunam could be used like former Saints tight end Jimmy Graham when he played under head coach Sean Payton.

When the initial depth chart came out, Okwuegbunam was the last tight on depth chart and faced a tall mountain ahead to climb.

Struggling in training camp with blocking and understanding the offense, Okwuegbunam fought for playing time.

During the first two preseason games, Okwuegbunam failed to record a single catch during his playing time.

In the final preseason game, the fourth-year tight end shined against the Los Angeles Rams. Okwuegbunam caught seven passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.

“He had a big night. I mean, holy cow,” Broncos head coach Sean Payton said after the game.

One of the biggest issues as to why Okwuegbunam was traded was because of the lack of his blocking ability as a tight end.

Former Broncos offensive lineman Mark Schlereth gave an example on how bad Okwuegbunam’s blocking was in the final preseason game.

Instead of keeping Okwuegbunam, the Broncos are going to move forward with four tight ends, Adam Trautman, Greg Dulcich, Nate Adkins, and Chris Manhertz.

Dulcich is a 2022 draft pick under general manager George Paton with a lot of upside on the receiving front, while Trautman spent two seasons under Payton in New Orleans. Manhertz appeared in three games for Payton while with the Saints and is considered more of the blocking tight end to help in the run game.

It also appears that the Broncos really like Adkins, who is and undrafted rookie.

“The versatility, the toughness, the smarts,” Paton said in reference of Adkins. “He’s a football player. He’s a guy we had targeted throughout the process. We almost drafted him. It just didn’t fall. We didn’t have a lot of picks. We were really fortunate to get him as an undrafted free agent.”

Elway’s Draft Picks Are Disappearing

After the Broncos won the 2016 Super Bowl, general manager John Elway knew that he needed to rebuild the Broncos and make them contenders again. Though, it’s been no secret in Denver that the draft picks were not always up to par.

From the 2016-2020, Elway drafted a total of 42 players and only seven remain on today’s Broncos roster. Of those seven picks only Justin Simmons and Courtland Sutton have made the Pro Bowl and Simmons and Garett Bolles are the only two to receive All-Pro honors.

Denver selected Okwuegbunam in the fourth-round of the 2020 NFL draft along with nine other players. With him now gone, only Jerry Jeudy, Lloyd Cushenberry, and Justin Strnad remain on the roster from that draft class.

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