After signing Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme to three-year contracts worth between $8 million and $8.5 million, the Denver Broncos are hoping their tight ends can produce at a level that approaches what Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have done for the New England Patriots, Jeff Legwold of The Denver Post wrote Sunday.
The lack of production from Broncos tight ends last season was due to now-departed quarterbacks (Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow) targeting the position just 54 times overall and, as Legwold notes, only nine times in the final five games. That will not be the case in 2012, as the Broncos' two new tight ends have a history of productivity, including one who had a banner season the last time Peyton Manning graced the gridiron.
Tamme received a $3.5 million guarantee on an $8 million contract this offseason after coming off a down season when he played alongside quarterbacks Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky for the 2011 Indianapolis Colts. It was only one season earlier when Tamme replaced an injured Dallas Clark in the Colts' starting lineup for the season's final 10 games and caught 67 passes (on 93 targets) for 631 yards with four touchdowns. Tamme had six or more receptions in eight of those 10 regular season games in 2010. With tight ends about to become key players in the Broncos offense, Tamme could be in line for an 80 catch season.
Dreessen, 29, received the slightly larger contract ($8.5 million, $5.5 million guaranteed) after setting a career-high with six touchdowns for the 2011 Houston Texans. Dreessen also ranked in the top 10 among tight ends in both of Football Outsiders' advanced receiving metrics. As was the case with the Texans, for whom Dreessen played behind Owen Daniels, he likely will be the No. 2 behind Tamme, but he could be a factor in the red zone.