Of all positions, tight end is my favorite and the one that has let me down year after year in Denver. Even though Julius Thomas was some what of a whiner, I sure miss him. Heck, 2012 was even a good season for them.
Not sure why, but as I’ve written many times, 2012 was the last time the Broncos had a balanced team. While some position groups were more stacked than others, overall, that roster was why Peyton Manning chose Denver.
We had Joel Dressen and Jacob Tamme as starters, plus Thomas. Since JT left, we’ve had a big pile, eh.
I’m on my knees hoping Jake Butt and Troy Fumagalli can be the 1-2 punch we desperately need. Both are safe in contracts, but since I’m doing every position group, will add them.
While Jeff Heuerman is the third most tenured player on the offense (OMG), it’s Butt that is listed top of the depth chart. It’s tough to see him returning. Since this is the last year of his rookie contract, the dead money is the same no matter when he’s released. Because he’s already been “paid”, and the TE depth is painfully inexperienced, he’s safe.
Heuerman hasn’t lived up to his pre-draft hype, but after sitting his rookie season with an ACL and then hurting himself after coming back too soon, along with crappy QBing, it’s not a shocker. His 2017 50% catch rate is only 1% worse than Emmanuel Sanders, and 6.55 Yards after Catch is very good. Not sure why he wasn’t used more except bad coaching. Case Keenum can’t make all the throws, but he can make short, quick ones with good accuracy and that’s a TE’s meat and potatoes. Jeff could be a surprise this season.
Jake Butt has been making all the catches this off season, playing with both Keenum and Paxton Lynch. In fact, he and WR Courtland Sutton have been the stars (that we’ve seen in available viewing time), giving everyone hope he could be the next Thomas, Shannon Sharpe or Riley Odoms. I’m only posting his contract even though he’s safe this season, so readers can see his contract.
I’ve used his college stats since it’s all we have to go for right now. I don’t know what his YAC was or reception rate, but extrapolating the numbers below, his senior season he caught 3.82 passes a game for 11.9 a carry.
Next up, I’m using Austin Traylor because he’s still under contract and he did play at the end of the season. Traylor is still eligible for a Practice Squad, after he’s on a 53 man roster for three games.
Traylor played his games with wounded duck QB’s. Literally. Simeian was mentally hurt, Aswieler and Lynch were physically, so tough to know what his future will be because we don’t know how many TE’s Bill Musgrave wants to keep. As stated above, Keeneum can throw the type of pass TE’s like. Traylor did well at blocking and catching, but more experience and a healthy QB could help him. He needs TC and Pre-Season to show why he must be on the 53.
6’6″ (<-yes, this makes me happy) Troy Fumagalli and Butt’s college stats, especially senior year are eerily close which is why I’m including them. I was thrilled we drafted him, actually thought he would be gone before the third round. He and Butt are who I see as a duo threat. The Zach Ertz and Trey Burton of the AFCW. If these two can be even half of what us fans think, our offense has to be tons better than it has been in years.
Troy is obviously safe this season and hopefully for years to come.
These are the four that I hope make the roster. The reason? Weak/questionable depth at the WR and RB positions, plus based on what we’ve heard, 12 man sets may be what works best for Keenum and this simple offense. To be honest, I’m not objective, I want 4 TE’s, but most likely Denver keeps three and Traylor goes back to the practice squad.