The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are present process a transition interval in a number of areas this season. Together with new head coach Todd Bowles taking up for his longtime mentor, Bruce Arians, the Bucs have been compelled to reshape their roster following two years of considerable success. No place has seen extra coming and going than the tight finish spot, and the arrival of veteran Kyle Rudolph signifies the newest change for the place’s depth chart.
How Kyle Rudolph’s arrival can affect each phases of the Buccaneers’ offense
Former first-round choose O.J. Howard left in free company, after which former Professional Bowl tight finish Rob Gronkowski introduced his retirement this summer season. Whereas some speculated that Gronkowski’s retirement could be short-lived, like Tom Brady’s month-long hiatus earlier this offseason, the opposite former New England Patriots standout has reiterated he’s finished with the sport in latest weeks.
Gronk’s emphatic backing of his retirement plans compelled the Buccaneers to improvise and look elsewhere for a confirmed security web for Brady. Final Wednesday, the Buccaneers agreed to phrases with Rudolph, who spent the 2021 season with the New York Giants.
Rudolph, 32, will likely be anticipated to staff with fellow veteran Cameron Brate in two-tight finish units. Brate is extra of a utility tight finish, whereas Rudolph can nonetheless be efficient as a playmaker. Whereas Rudolph has dealt together with his fair proportion of accidents over the previous few years, he did acquire 26 catches for 257 yards and a landing in a directionless offense within the Meadowlands final 12 months.
Rudolph, previous to his one-year cease with the Giants, was a red-zone dynamo for the Minnesota Vikings, producing 48 touchdowns over 10 years with the NFC North franchise. Like Gronkowski, Brady can use Rudolph’s 6-foot-6, 265-pound body to search out dimension mismatches on must-have downs. Rudolph has delicate arms and makes use of his dimension very nicely on the tight finish place, which permits him to leverage his approach in crowded areas. Brady and Rudolph ought to commonly join within the purple zone, in idea.
With the passing weapons the Buccaneers have in place, the ball will likely be unfold round fairly commonly, and Rudolph needs to be seen as a cog within the offense, versus a driver of the assault. Brady has a number of mouths to feed, particularly when Chris Godwin inevitably returns to the lineup. Till Godwin returns, Mike Evans, Russell Gage, and presumably even Brate ought to take precedence within the passing sport over Rudolph.
That mentioned, Rudolph needs to be a dependable outlet for Brady as he seems to win ring No. 8. — Mike Kaye, PFN Lead NFL Reporter
I have to admit I didn’t suppose we’d be speaking in regards to the fantasy affect of Rudolph, however simply whenever you really feel you will have the NFL discovered, it likes to remind you that you just don’t. Following Gronkowski’s second retirement, the Buccaneers had been left with two choices. Both head into the season with Brate and rookie Cade Otton or signal a veteran in free company.
The Bucs opted for the latter, signing Rudolph simply as training camp is about to happen. Whereas it is sensible from a roster standpoint, it’s exhausting to be overly enthusiastic about Rudolph from a fantasy perspective. Rudolph hasn’t been a notable fantasy asset the final two years, catching 54 passes and two TDs in 28 video games with the Vikings and Giants. He’s been used primarily as a blocker. However that was not at all times his position.
Rudolph has two seasons on his résumé with not less than seven touchdowns, and he scored 25 from 2016-19 with Minnesota. Sadly, he hasn’t performed a complete marketing campaign within the final two years (27 of 33 video games), and we’ve got to return to 2016 to search out his career-best stat line of 83 receptions for 840 yards and 7 scores. Since that season, Rudolph has totaled 12 TDs and 958 yards in 63 appearances.
Even with Rudolph becoming a member of the squad, I don’t see him operating away with the job. As an alternative, Rudolph, Brate, and Otton possible see time on the sphere in several conditions, with the 2 veterans incomes nearly all of the workload. At that time, managers are betting on who scores the touchdowns or receives the higher-leverage red-zone seems. But, when at full energy, these are simply as more likely to go in the direction of Mike Evans or Chris Godwin than one of many trio of TEs. For the primary time in an extended whereas, deciding on Brady’s tight finish is not one thing I will likely be concentrating on on draft day. — Tommy Garrett, PFN Senior Fantasy Analyst
How Rudolph might affect Buccaneers’ betting odds
2022 will likely be Rudolph’s twelfth skilled season. He’s not younger by any stretch, however 32 years outdated isn’t the identical for a decent finish as it’s for a large receiver. Rudolph might very nicely be the Bucs’ TE1 this season. It’s not as if Brate has been something particular.
With all that mentioned, Rudolph’s arrival had no affect on the Bucs’ betting odds. Even in his prime, a staff signing Rudolph wouldn’t have seen any motion of their odds consequently. At this level in his profession, Rudolph can nonetheless be a helpful participant, however he’s not transferring any needles. Nonetheless you seen the Bucs previous to Rudolph’s signing needs to be precisely the way you view them now.
Tampa Bay is +750 to win the Tremendous Bowl and -320 to win the NFC South at Caesars sportsbook. — Jason Katz, PFN Fantasy and Betting Analyst
How Rudolph’s arrival might affect Tampa Bay’s 2023 NFL Draft plans
In a vacuum, there are two sorts of free company strikes — short-term and long-term. The long-term strikes occur early on, as groups look to spend capital on high-value belongings and add extra cornerstone items of their quests for competition. The short-term strikes happen later. Particularly in the summertime, free agent veterans typically discover new properties on one-year offers to assist groups ramp up towards instant competition.
That’s what Rudolph’s signing is for the Buccaneers — a short-term deal. Within the wake of the losses of each Gronkowski and Howard, buying Rudolph on a one-year contract higher permits Tampa Bay to maximise their remaining window with Brady. In his present state, Rudolph is just a modest TE2, however he nonetheless has the dimensions and play energy to be a harmful red-zone menace. Rudolph provides the Buccaneers’ offense — one that’s outlined by its number of weapons — one other distinctive choice to make the most of.
Whereas Rudolph might find yourself taking part in an vital position in 2022, if he stays wholesome, he doesn’t affect the franchie’s long-term plans on the NFL draft panorama. Rudolph is growing older and a free agent in 2023. Except he experiences a profession resurgence, the possibilities are excessive that he’s only a one-year rental for Tampa Bay. When the 2023 NFL Draft rolls round, the Buccaneers will nonetheless want an eventual successor to Brate, who enters free company in 2024. And whereas Tampa Bay has a pair of intriguing rookies in Cade Otton and Ko Kieft, the depth chart could also be too crowded for them to totally show themselves in 2022.
Otton profiles as a well-rounded, if unspectacular TE for the Buccaneers. In the meantime, Kieft is a blocking menace who suits nicely in a rotation. If the Buccaneers find yourself needing a red-zone menace to interchange Rudolph, there are a number of choices accessible within the 2023 NFL Draft group. Alabama’s Cameron Latu stands out within the early rounds. He’s a former EDGE convert who’s rapidly trending up at TE. Final 12 months, he broke the Alabama single-season file for TDs by a TE. He’s extremely athletic, with pure separation skill, but additionally brings a bodily edge.
If the Buccaneers select to spend Spherical 1 capital at TE, Michael Mayer is the apparent entrance runner. However farther down the draft board, TEs who specialise in dominating dimension and red-zone skill embrace Zack Kuntz, Darnell Washington, and Kemari Averett. If nothing else, the depth of the incoming TE class permits Tampa to rapidly pivot away from Rudolph if they should. — Ian Cummings, PFN NFL Draft Analyst