Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign TE Kyle Rudolph in post-Gronk era
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign TE Kyle Rudolph in post-Gronk era

Updated Jul. 21, 2022 12:31 p.m. ET

It appears that Kyle Rudolph will be at least part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' equation when it comes to replacing Rob Gronkowski.

Reports surfaced Wednesday that the veteran tight end had signed a one-year deal with the Bucs, after "Gronk" reiterated that his playing career is done this week — despite what his girlfriend believes.

The move seems to solidify Gronk's retirement, but Skip Bayless isn't so sure. 


On "Undisputed," he revealed why he still doesn't believe the door is closed on Gronk rejoining Tom Brady in Tampa and discussed why Rudolph will ultimately struggle to replace Gronk.

"I don't think Kyle Rudolph will even begin to fill the shoes of Rob Gronkowski," Bayless said. "I don't think he has the physical stature that Gronk brings to the football [field]. … I look at the two best years that Kyle Rudolph ever had, [which was] 2012 and 2017 [when] he made the Pro Bowl. Pretty good. In those years, he caught 53 and 57 balls. Then, I look back at Gronk, if we just do his greatest year ever in New England — we're going back to 2011 — he caught 90 balls for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns that led the league that year. The most for Kyle Rudolph were nine and eight in his two Pro Bowl years. 

"So, the numbers would suggest that [Gronkowski is] twice the receiver that Kyle Rudolph is."

Kyle Rudolph signs with Bucs to replace Rob Gronkowski

Kyle Rudolph is headed to Tampa Bay after the Buccaneers signed the tight end to a one-year deal, serving as a replacement to Rob Gronkowski. Skip Bayless reacts.

Rudolph, 32, spent last season with the New York Giants, and prior to that, he was a two-time Pro Bowl selection during his 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings (2012, 2017).

While Rudolph has been productive over the course of his 11-year career, his statistical output doesn't come close to that of Gronkowski's.

Even last season, which proved to be Gronkowski's final season, nearly matched the output of Rudolph's best season. In 2016-17, Rudolph caught 83 passes for 840 yards and seven scores. In 2021-22, Gronkowski caught 55 balls for 802 yards and six scores.

Gronkowski's best individual year occurred in 2011-12, when he caught 90 passes for 1,327 yards and 17 scores.

Rudolph — who tallied 26 receptions for 257 yards and one touchdown in 16 games last season (13 starts) — has never had a 1,000-yard receiving season. Gronkowski has had four.


Get more from Tampa Bay Buccaneers Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more