With the NFL Combine completed, we are now looking towards free agency as the legal tampering period opens up next week, and if you took a look at the Broncos current tight end depth chart Jake Butt and Troy Fumagalli are going to need to make huge jumps. If you were looking to place a bet on positions Elway will focus on this offseason, tight end is 1B behind corner.
Weight: 261 lbs
Age: 25 by opening day.
Experience: 5th year
Jesse James was drafted into the league as a fifth round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015 after a collegiate career at Penn State. During his pro career he has moved between tight end 1 and 2 on the depth chart, playing behind Heath Miller and then Vance McDonald. To date he hauled in 120 receptions for 1189 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Why this makes sense
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard that the Broncos hired Rich Scangarello. The new offensive coordinator worked under Kyle Shanahan and Denver’s offense is likely to look similar to the 49er offense last year. There is a big need for an inline tight end who can block as well as catch. James is one of the better blocking tight ends on the market and brings the athleticism a guy like Marcedes Lewis simply lacks.
If you really were living that Patrick Star life, you missed the news that Mike Munchak has been hired as the new offensive line coach. Guess who worked in the Munchak blocking scheme with Pittsburgh?
Why it doesn’t make sense
I’ll be honest, this move has made more and more sense to me the longer I’ve thought about it. Cost could be a problem if other teams get involved, which could happen. This free agent tight end market is relatively shallow.
James wouldn’t be the kind of move that’ll spark a ton of excitement in Broncos Country, but he’s probably the best veteran fit on the market for the new offensive system. There are more exciting names, but most come with injury, age or fit questions.
It shouldn’t cost so much that Elway would be deterred from chasing a high upside rookie either. In an ideal world the Broncos grab James in free agency and find a prospect coming out to develop in the system. That way in 2020 or ‘21 a big weakness grew into a strength.