Tom Brady has a new target and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a more complete tight end room for the 2002 season.
On Monday, the Buccaneers signed 12th-year veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph to a one-year deal. Rudolph spent the 2021 season with the New York Giants after a very productive decade with the Minnesota Vikings. He originally entered the NFL as a second-round pick in the 2011 draft out of the University of Notre Dame.
Rudolph rounds out a tight end position that had been thinned by the free agency departure of O.J. Howard and the recent retirement of Rob Gronkowski. Like Gronkowski, Rudolph is an accomplished blocker who can stay on the field for all three downs. He also has career totals of 479 receptions for 4,745 yards and 49 touchdowns. He has consistently been a strong red zone throughout throughout his career.
Rudolph made the Pro Bowl with the Vikings in 2017 after catching 57 passes for 532 yards and eight touchdowns. He set career highs with 83 receptions and 840 yards in 2016 and had hauled in six touchdowns in his most recent 16-game season in 2019. He also made the Pro Bowl in 2012 after recording a career-high nine scores.
View pictures from TE Kyle Rudolph's NFL career thus far.
The Buccaneers were lacking in experience at the tight end spot following Gronkowski's decision in June to hang up his cleats. Eighth-year man Cameron Brate is among the team's all-time leaders with 33 touchdown catches, but the five other tight ends on the current roster have combined for exactly one regular-season NFL catch. That includes a pair of 2022 draft picks in fourth-rounder Cade Otton and sixth-rounder Ko Kieft. Otton has the potential to be a true "Y" three-down tight end but he's also returning from a 2021 injury.
The Buccaneers did not need to make a corresponding move after signing Rudolph, as they had an open roster spot following the release of punter Bradley Pinion. The roster now stands at the 90-man limit heading into the start of training camp. Veteran players are scheduled to report to camp on Tuesday, with the first practice scheduled for the morning of Wednesday, July 27.