After journeyman Adam Trautman led the team with a paltry 204 receiving yards, the Denver Broncos will need to get more out of the tight end position in 2024 if they hope to have sustainable success on the offensive side of the ball in Sean Payton’s offense.

Denver Broncos need to renovate TE room

Toward the end of the 2023 NFL season, it felt like the Broncos’ offense was missing something consistently. Part of that was the tight-end position and overall lack of production from the unit.

Coming out of training camp, there was a lot of excitement surrounding the possibility of second-year player Greg Dulcich becoming the ‘Joker’ in Sean Payton’s offense. The excitement was short-lived after Dulcich went down with a hamstring injury in the first half of Denver’s season opener against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Dulcich’s Week 1 injury landed him on injured reserve. He returned in Week 6 against the Kansas City Chiefs before suffering another injury to his hamstring.

His injury forced the team to rely heavily on two-tight end sets, with Adam Trautman and veteran Chris Manhertz, which didn’t create a lot of opportunities to diversify the Broncos’ passing attack. From an observation standpoint, opposing defenses seemed to know what to expect any time the Broncos went into ’12’ and ’13’ personnel.

Five other players on Denver’s offense saw more targets than Trautman in 2023. Two of those players were wide receivers like Courtland Sutton (90) and Jerry Jeudy (87), while the three other players were running backs Javonte Williams (58), Samaje Perine (56), and Jaleel McLaughlin (36).

The reality is plain and simple: the offense didn’t receive enough production from the tight end room to justify running it back as it was last year. Trautman is set to become a free agent, and would be a solid piece to bring back into the mix, but the Broncos cannot bank on the hope of Dulcich staying healthy for a full season.

The Broncos found out the hard way that they can’t put all of their eggs into one basket, and while Dulcich is under contract in 2024, it could be his final audition to stay on the team.

Let’s be very clear: Dulcich’s injuries are not his fault, and it’s been an unfortunate development for his early NFL career. When healthy, he’s proven to be a significantly impactful player, and Denver’s biggest hope is that he can showcase that with a healthy season this year.

From the business side of the NFL, Payton has to look into a better contingency plan for the position. Lucas Krull is the perfect, cost-effective solution on the Broncos roster right now.

The soon-to-be third-year player has legitimate size, athleticism, and speed to be an impact player on offense and will get every opportunity this offseason to prove that. At 6’6, 260 lbs, Krull is an option that can play in-line, flexed in the slot, or put on an island in a one-on-one situation.

He has every tool necessary to evolve into the ‘Joker’ role that Payton was hoping Dulcich could be.

Nate Adkins made the team’s 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie free agent but saw very limited action, appearing in 10 games and starting in one, hauling in four catches for 22 yards. He’ll be back in the mix competing for a roster spot come training camp, but Denver’s overall tight end room doesn’t have enough glimmer to run it back.

Could the Broncos look to the NFL draft to find a potential tight end option? One of the most popular names that Broncos Country has fallen in love with is Georgia stud Brock Bowers, but he’ll be gone in the first round, and it seems highly unlikely that Denver would spend their 12th overall pick on a tight end.

Some other names to keep an eye on in the draft include Texas TE Ja’Tavion Sanders, Ohio State’s Cade Stover, and Florida State’s Jaheim Bell. Local CSU Rams product Dallin Holker could be a potential option.

If the Broncos look to make a move during the second or third wave of NFL free agency, names like Jimmy Graham (who played for Payton in New Orleans), Mike Gesicki, Noah Fant, Irv Smith, and Austin Hooper could be potential options to consider.

As Denver prepares for another offseason of shuffling at the QB position, it’s likely that decision will impact what the team decides to do to address some of the other positional needs around the offense. Everybody is curious about what the team’s plan is for the tight end position. It definitely needs renovating, but there’s also a chance that the Broncos will decide to stick with the status quo, which would be an unpopular move in the eyes of the fanbase.