The Denver Broncos are showing some interest in a former Pro Bowl tight end.
According to a report by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, the Broncos hosted two-time Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph for a workout on Friday, April 8.
“Love that KyleRudolph keeps on going, had a workout with Broncos,” says Glazer. “Old-school dude still going at it.”
Why Rudolph Would Make Sense for Broncos
The 32-year-old Rudolph spent the 2021 season with the New York Giants after he spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Minnesota Vikings. It was during Rudolph’s tenure with the Vikings that he emerged as one of the top tight ends in the league.
Rudolph posted Pro Bowl campaigns during the 2012 and 2017 seasons. His best season came in 2016 when Rudolph caught 83 passes for 840 yards and seven touchdowns.
However, the veteran tight end posted his worst season to date in his lone year with the Giants. Rudolph caught just 26 passes for 257 yards and one touchdown. According to Pro Football Focus, Rudolph posted a 63.5 offensive grade last season, the worst grade of his 11-year career.
Rudolph ranked 31st among all tight ends (with at least 25 targets) in offensive grade last season.
The Broncos are currently seeking veteran tight end depth after trading their starter, Noah Fant, to the Seattle Seahawks in the Russell Wilson trade. Fant started the past three seasons with the Broncos after he was selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft.
Fant emerged as one of the better receiving tight ends in the league during his short tenure in Denver. The 24-year-old caught 68 passes for 670 yards and four touchdowns last season and posted 62 receptions for 673 yards and three touchdowns during the 2020 season.
Despite the clear difference in production, Rudolph’s (63.5 offensive grade) actually exceeded Fant’s (61.6 offensive grade) from last season.
Considering Rudolph’s vast decline in production and his age (32), he would be a bargain signing for the Broncos. Rudolph earned $7 million during the 2021 season with the Giants. It’s safe to assume he would earn less than that during the 2022 season.
At the current moment, two-year tight end Albert Okwuegbunam projects as the Broncos’ starting tight end. Okwuegbunam caught 33 passes for 330 yards and two touchdowns while starting six games last season. Okwuegbunam’s 82.5% catch rate actually led all Broncos receivers (with at least three receptions) last season.
ALL the latest Broncos news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Broncos newsletter here!
Broncos are ‘Wise Landing Spot’ for Rudolph
David Kenyon of Bleacher Report recently named Rudolph as one free agent who could “help” Denver entering the 2022 season.
“This is basically a make-or-break season for Rudolph’s value,” said Kenyon on Wednesday, April 6.
“The Denver Broncos are a wise landing spot. They shipped Noah Fant to the Seattle Seahawks in the Russell Wilson trade, which creates an opportunity for Rudolph to earn regular snaps and catch passes from a top-tier quarterback.
Considering his recent performance, Rudolph could be a low-risk bargain for the Broncos.”
As Kenyon notes, Rudolph saw just 48% of the offensive snaps with the Giants in 2021, splitting time with starting tight end Evan Engram.
Rudolph can play a similar role for the Broncos while sharing tight end duties with Okwuegbunam. The difference is, Rudolph would be playing in a much more dynamic offense with Russell Wilson leading the way. Furthermore, he’d be flanked by skilled receivers in Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick.