Dante Rosario of the Denver Broncos makes a jumping catch in front of Steve Gregory of the San Diego Chargers during the 4th quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on November 27, 2011. The Broncos went on to win 16-13 in overtime. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Tight End Dante Rosario is the next Denver Bronco Free Agent to be reviewed in our look at the 2012 Offseason. Chosen by Carolina in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Rosario played his college ball at Oregon, where he set a school record for Tight Ends with 42 receptions as a senior in 2006. He started 22 games for the Panthers over the next four seasons, but only 6 in 2010. That didn't stop him from posting a career high 32 catches for 264 yards (8.3 avg.). With the arrival of Free Agent Jeremy Shockey in March 2011, Dante was released. He ended up reuniting with his former coach John Fox when he signed with the Broncos in July 2011. But again, Rosario was surprisingly released at the end of the preseason because rookie Tight Ends Julius Thomas and Virgil Green had a good Training Camp. A few days later, the Miami Dolphins signed him, but that lasted all of 3 weeks. He was released on September 20th and resigned by the Broncos on September 22, 2011 when Julius Thomas suffered a high-ankle sprain.
2011 Season Highlights:
In addition to the stat line above, Dante led the Broncos in Special Team's Tackles with 10 and downed 2 punts. His most memorable achievements on Special Teams will likely be the two Illegal Block above the Waist penalties he incurred in the Buffalo game, but he had good results against the AFC West division where he made two Tackles against the Raiders in Week 9 and two Tackles and a downed punt each against the Chiefs during Week 10 and the Chargers in Week 12.
Rosario made his regular season debut with the Broncos during Week 3 at Tennessee. He got his first regular season catch during Week 5 at home against the San Diego Chargers, a 10-yard catch from Kyle Orton in the 1st Quarter. Dante's best outing of the season as a Tight End came in Week 16, Christmas Eve in Buffalo. He caught 2 passes for 46 yards.
Rosario has a great overall athletic ability combined with excellent hands and speed. He runs specific routes well and has the flair to find the open spot in the short range. The bigger deal is that he isn't much of a blocker. Rosario doesn't react quickly on scrambling plays to keep up the pace against defenders and can be invisible for lengthy periods. While he's not a playmaker, he is an adequate pass-catching tight end with some upside.
Free Agent Options
Dante signed a one-year contract with the Broncos with the terms undisclosed. Research tells me that he made $585,000 in 2010, so his 2011 salary can be calculated to be in the range of $600,000 to $685.000. In 2012, the minimum he will make is $700,000. Not a bad price tag for an excellent Special Teamer and spot 2nd or 3rd Tight End. He is an Unrestricted Free Agent though.
I would think that the Broncos will bring him back to compete with rookies Julius Thomas and Virgil Green once again. It also remains to be seen whether the team will bring back Daniel Fells, but trying to address this position through free Agency or the draft seems futile at best. Especially with more important needs elsewhere.