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Buccaneers free agent options to replace Rob Gronkowski

With the retirement of TE Rob Gronkowski, the Buccaneers currently have Cameron Brate and rookie Cade Otton as the tight end options for this offense. Brate has flashed at times in a reserve role and Otton had a little draft buzz, but these are big shoes to fill. The Buccaneers have to consider their free agent options as camp is starting in a month.

Eric Ebron– Age: 29

– An injury filled 2021 limited Ebron to under 100 yards on 18 targets, but reports are that he is fully healthy now. Ebron could give the Buccaneers a more athletic TE who has shown productivity when he can stay healthy and given opportunities. He was TE 4 in Best Ball scoring in 2018 and TE 14 in 2020. His career before 2018 with the Lions he would consistently put up some decent numbers, on a per game basis.

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The consistency would be a question mark here, but if they want another option in case Brate were to falter Ebron is an attractive option. Ebron gives a higher upside/age combo than the other names on this list. He could give Brady another passing threat as Tampa tries to replace Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and injured Chris Godwin.

Kyle Rudolph– Age: 32

– Rudolph didn’t have much of a fantasy impact with the Giants last season, catching only 26 balls for 257 yards and 1 TD. Playing with Tom Brady though could give him some life as a TD red zone option. Rudolph was a pretty solid fantasy  TE prior to 2020. In the three years prior (2017-2019) he finished 8th, 7th and 14th in TE PPR scoring.

He probably wouldn’t be good enough to replace Cameron Brate, but he is a player they should consider. His big frame has always made him a valuable TD option and he’s a pretty strong blocker who can help their run game. Not someone who you would likely draft in fantasy, but could be a cheap DFS play at times, and could help Brady’s outlook.

 

Jared Cook– Age: 35

-Cook is the oldest player on this list, but he’s also been the most consistent. Over the last 5 seasons, Cook has missed a total of 4 games. In those seasons Cook has averaged 50 catches, 671 yards and 5.6 TDs. That is low end TE1 territory at that average. Even just taking his last two seasons where he averaged 42.5 catches 534 yards and 5.5 TDs you have a productive fantasy player.

Though Brate would probably have the inside track, Cook would be an intriguing 2nd TE for this offense. It’s likely they’d split the work so much to hurt each other outside of late round Best Ball or DFS plays. Still Cook is a potential consistent option Tampa could consider.

Blake Jarwin- Age: 28

– Jarwin is the youngest TE on this list, but he’s also the biggest injury question mark. Jarwin played just a total of 9 games over the past two seasons. He suffered a torn ACL week 1 of 2020 and then dealt with a significant hip injury in 2021. Though he was able to return for the end of the season/playoffs Jarwin needed offseason hip surgery. Current reports suggest he should be healthy for week 1, but that is not 100% clear.

Jarwin was expected to take the Cowboys starting TE role from Jason Witten before these injuries opened the door for Dalton Schultz. Jarwin showed decent flashes in 2018 and 2019 without having the full time TE job. If he can get back to playing like that he could pair with Brate as a solid number 2 TE option. It seems like a riskier option, but if he checks out medically Tampa Bay could consider it.

Overall:

– The Buccaneers free agent options are limited, but they can find tight end help. Jared Cook probably makes the most sense from his consistency, but Ebron might have the best balance of upside and talent. If they only want more of a clear number 2 option, Rudolph is fine for that role. Given how talented this offense is in general you need to at least consider anyone the Buccaneers sign for fantasy purposes. But Cook would be the only player I’d really consider drafting ahead of Brate.

 



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