Bucs GM: Rob Gronkowski's Return Won't Be Affected by Cade Otton Draft Pick

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 30, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 02: Washington tight end Cade Otton answers questions from the media during the NFL Scouting Combine on March 2, 2022, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft on Saturday by selecting Washington tight end Cade Otton with the No. 106 overall pick.

Don't read too much into it when it comes to free agent Rob Gronkowski's status.

“I'm still giving him that time," general manager Jason Licht said, per ESPN's Jenna Laine. "We still talk. I think it didn't matter if we drafted two tight ends."

Otton was a solid blocker during his time at Washington, but he wasn't much of a factor in the passing attack.

His best season came in 2019 when he tallied 32 catches for 344 yards and two touchdowns, and he had just 250 receiving yards and one touchdown in 2021. Those numbers don't exactly jump off the page, especially when compared to arguably the greatest tight end in NFL history in Gronkowski.

Gronkowski's resume includes four Super Bowl titles, four All-Pro selections and five Pro Bowls. He was still productive at 32 years old in 2021 with 55 catches for 802 yards and six touchdowns.

He is not someone teams simply replace with blocking tight ends selected in the fourth round, so it comes as no surprise Licht clarified Otton does not impact Gronkowski's status.

Fortunately for Tampa Bay, the future Hall of Famer told TMZ Sports he would only return to the NFL in 2022 to play with Tom Brady on the Buccaneers. That means the team doesn't have to worry about fighting off other suitors, just the possibility he could retire.

And if he does, Otton will need to be prepared to take on a bigger role.