The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are present process a transition interval in a number of areas this season. Along with new head coach Todd Bowles taking up for his longtime mentor, Bruce Arians, the Bucs have been pressured to reshape their roster following two years of substantial 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 influence each phases of the Buccaneers’ offense
Former first-round decide O.J. Howard left in free company, and then former Pro Bowl tight finish Rob Gronkowski introduced his retirement this summer time. While some speculated that Gronkowski’s retirement can be short-lived, like Tom Brady’s month-long hiatus earlier this offseason, the different former New England Patriots standout has reiterated he’s completed with the sport in latest weeks.
Gronk’s emphatic backing of his retirement plans pressured the Buccaneers to improvise and look elsewhere for a confirmed security web for Brady. Last Wednesday, the Buccaneers agreed to phrases with Rudolph, who spent the 2021 season with the New York Giants.
Rudolph, 32, will probably be anticipated to workforce 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. While Rudolph has dealt together with his justifiable share of accidents over the previous few years, he did gather 26 catches for 257 yards and a landing in a directionless offense in the Meadowlands final yr.
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 measurement mismatches on must-have downs. Rudolph has smooth fingers and makes use of his measurement very effectively at the tight finish place, which permits him to leverage his manner in crowded areas. Brady and Rudolph ought to often join in the pink zone, in idea.
With the passing weapons the Buccaneers have in place, the ball will probably be unfold round fairly often, and Rudolph ought to be seen as a cog in 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. Until Godwin returns, Mike Evans, Russell Gage, and probably even Brate ought to take precedence in the passing sport over Rudolph.
That mentioned, Rudolph ought to be a dependable outlet for Brady as he appears to win ring No. 8. — Mike Kaye, PFN Lead NFL Reporter
I need to admit I didn’t suppose we’d be speaking about the fantasy influence of Rudolph, however simply once you really feel you will have the NFL discovered, it likes to remind you that you simply don’t. Following Gronkowski’s second retirement, the Buccaneers had been left with two choices. Either 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 coaching camp is about to happen. While it is smart from a roster standpoint, it’s onerous 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. But that was not all the time his position.
Rudolph has two seasons on his résumé with no less than seven touchdowns, and he scored 25 from 2016-19 with Minnesota. Unfortunately, he hasn’t performed a whole marketing campaign in the final two years (27 of 33 video games), and now we have to return to 2016 to search out his career-best stat line of 83 receptions for 840 yards and seven scores. Since that season, Rudolph has totaled 12 TDs and 958 yards in 63 appearances.
Even with Rudolph joining the squad, I don’t see him working away with the job. Instead, Rudolph, Brate, and Otton possible see time on the discipline in several conditions, with the two veterans incomes the majority of the workload. At that time, managers are betting on who scores the touchdowns or receives the higher-leverage red-zone appears. Yet, when at full energy, these are simply as prone to go in direction of Mike Evans or Chris Godwin than one of the trio of TEs. For the first time in a protracted whereas, choosing Brady’s tight finish is not one thing I will probably be focusing on on draft day. — Tommy Garrett, PFN Senior Fantasy Analyst
How Rudolph might influence Buccaneers’ betting odds
2022 will probably 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 effectively 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 influence on the Bucs’ betting odds. Even in his prime, a workforce 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. However you seen the Bucs previous to Rudolph’s signing ought to be precisely the way you view them now.
Tampa Bay is +750 to win the Super Bowl and -320 to win the NFC South at Caesars sportsbook. — Jason Katz, PFN Fantasy and Betting Analyst
How Rudolph’s arrival might influence 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. Especially in the summer time, free agent veterans generally discover new houses on one-year offers to assist groups ramp up towards fast competition.
That’s what Rudolph’s signing is for the Buccaneers — a short-term deal. In 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 simply a modest TE2, however he nonetheless has the measurement and play energy to be a harmful red-zone risk. Rudolph provides the Buccaneers’ offense — one that’s outlined by its selection of weapons — one other distinctive choice to make the most of.
While Rudolph might find yourself enjoying an necessary position in 2022, if he stays wholesome, he doesn’t influence the franchie’s long-term plans on the NFL draft panorama. Rudolph is growing older and a free agent in 2023. Unless he experiences a profession resurgence, the chances are high 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. Meanwhile, Kieft is a blocking menace who suits effectively in a rotation. If the Buccaneers find yourself needing a red-zone risk to exchange Rudolph, there are a number of choices out there in the 2023 NFL Draft group. Alabama’s Cameron Latu stands out in the early rounds. He’s a former EDGE convert who’s shortly trending up at TE. Last yr, 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 Round 1 capital at TE, Michael Mayer is the apparent entrance runner. But farther down the draft board, TEs who concentrate on dominating measurement and red-zone skill embody Zack Kuntz, Darnell Washington, and Kemari Averett. If nothing else, the depth of the incoming TE class permits Tampa to shortly pivot away from Rudolph if they should. — Ian Cummings, PFN NFL Draft Analyst