The retirement of Buccaneers’ tight end Rob Gronkowski has been dominating the newsfeeds across social media. Why did he hang them up? Who will fill the void left by his retirement? How will this affect the Bucs’ offensive gameplan? All good questions, not a lot of good answers.
Questions That Need Answered
It’s not like the Buccaneers don’t have any tight ends on the roster. The problem is in most people’s minds, the sum of those still on the roster don’t match what Gronkowski brought to the table. Let’s unpack the current Buccaneers depth chart. Cameron Brate is no slouch, he is a bona-fide red zone threat, he can block and isn’t afraid to go over the middle.
The Buccaneers drafted two tight ends in this year’s draft. One, Cade Otton is viewed as a pass catching tight end that can block. The other tight end drafted this year is Ko Kieft. Kieft is viewed as a blocking tight end who can catch. After those three it’s basically practice squad players like Codey McElroy and guys you’ve never heard of. While you could argue Brate and the two rookies combined can do what Gronkowski did, you’d be leaving out one of Gronk’s greatest attributes. His chemistry with Tom Brady. That’s something that might be irreplaceable.
“It’s A Problem”
This point was echoed by former Buccaneer and current radio analyst and future XFL head coach Anthony Becht. Becht recently on SiriusXM NFL Radio when he was asked about Gronk’s retirement and how it impacts the Buccaneers.
“It’s a problem. I mean, listen, this is not a very good group overall, just because it lacks experience,” Becht continued saying he thonks Brady will rely on Brate to be “the guy”. The main concern Becht cited was the Bucs inability to run multiple-tight-end formations. Becht also stated that the Buccaneers need to bring in another veteran tight end as the rookies are, well, rookies.
“It is an important part of what Brady wants to do offensively,” Becht stated. “I don’t know necessarily for Leftwich and what they want to do. But we all know how Brady operates. It’s such a key position.”
The more you think about this, the more it becomes obvious, the Bucs should be in the market for a veteran tight end. Yes, Gronk might come back, but if he doesn’t, can the team count on Brate handling the load through an entire season and playoff run? That my friend, is the $60,000 question.
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