Buccaneers Make Splash by Signing 2-Time Pro Bowl Playmaker: Report

Brady Arians

Getty Tom Brady and Bruce Arians converse during a Buccaneers playoff game last season.

As training camp nears, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are giving Tom Brady another playmaker by signing former New York Giants tight end Kyle Rudolph, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Bucs are adding depth at tight end after Rob Gronkowski retired this offseason, and the team had been linked to Rudolph shortly after Gronk called it a career.

“Tom Brady has a new tight-end target in Tampa: Former Vikings’ and Giants’ veteran Kyle Rudolph is signing a one-year contact with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, per source,” Schefter said in a series of July 20, 2022 tweets. “Kyle Rudolph chose to play in Tampa despite the fact that former Michigan QB Tom Brady told his new tight end that he can’t be his first read because he went to Notre Dame.”

Rudolph had 26 receptions for 257 yards and one touchdown with the Giants during his 16 appearances in 2021. The veteran tight end is now on his second team in two years after spending his first 10 NFL seasons with the Vikings. Rudolph had two Pro Bowl campaigns (2012, 2017) while with the Vikings.

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Gronk on Retirement: ‘I’m All Set’

Despite plenty of speculation otherwise, Gronkowski has no plans to make a football comeback, even if Brady makes a mid-season call. During a July 18 interview with ESPN’s Jenna Laine, Gronkowski once again emphasized that his retirement from football is final.

“Obviously I’ll answer [the call]. It’s the greatest of all time calling me,” Gronkowski explained. “We have a great relationship, on and off the field. We’re friends. … But I wouldn’t go back to football. I’m all set.

“I’m enjoying what I’m doing, and I’m enjoying trying to find what I really, really want to do next. …It was my decision to stop. It was definitely time. It just felt right.”

Brate Was Previously the Only Bucs TE With NFL Experience

Rudolph is expected to compete with returning veteran Cameron Brate to be the Bucs starting tight end. Tampa Bay also drafted Cade Otton and Ko Kieft who both could have opportunities to contribute early as well. Prior to the addition of Rudolph, Brate was the lone Buccaneers tight end who had played in an NFL game.

“The Bucs have targeted tight ends in the end zone more than any other team in the league over the last two seasons,” Laine tweeted on July 20. “The Bucs have very little experience behind Cam Brate, and he’s more of an ‘F’ tight end and not asked to block a whole lot. Kyle Rudolph is more of a ‘Y.'”

The addition of Rudolph should quiet (for now) the ongoing speculation that Gronkowski plans to return to Tampa Bay later this season. Gronkowski also made it clear that he was only retiring from football but still plans to remain active in other business ventures.

“I’m not like really retired,” Gronkowski noted. “It’s just from the game of football. … It’s not from life. … When people start retiring, they start dying.”

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