Denver Broncos: Nick Vannett signing grade and analysis

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos have signed free agent tight end Nick Vannett to a two-year contract. We grade the move and analyze his roster impact.

In case you were waiting with baited breath for the Denver Broncos to make another roster move in the 2020 free agency period — here it is.

The team has reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with former Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks tight end Nick Vannett, a third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Ohio State.

Vannett was acquired last year during the season by the Steelers for a 2020 fifth-round pick, so the fact that they didn’t make a real effort to re-sign him is odd.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport was the first to report the signing of Vannett.

Mike Klis of 9News in Denver has details on Vannett’s contract, which is worth just $5.7 million over two seasons.

Let’s analyze this move from a value perspective and what it means for the roster overall.

Is Nick Vannett any good?

Well, according to pretty much every report regarding his signing, he is a ‘solid’ blocker. That certainly will perk up the ears of Jeff Heuerman, another former third-round pick out of Ohio State whose roster spot could be in clear jeopardy as a result of Vannett’s presence in Denver.

In four NFL seasons, Vannett has 61 receptions and four touchdowns.

Heuerman, who also has four seasons to his name, has 63 receptions with five touchdowns.

That doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but perhaps the Broncos feel like they can get out of the final year of Heuerman’s contract and replace him with a comparable, cheaper alternative in Vannett.

Vannett certainly has some upside that is perhaps untapped. He didn’t test as a tremendous athlete coming out of Ohio State but he’s made some nice contested catches among his 61 receptions and he obviously has the body type to be an extension of the line as a blocker.

Roster impact

The Broncos have no shortage of players to be intrigued by at the tight end position. Vannett was undoubtedly signed for depth, but as of right now, this team has:

  • Noah Fant
  • Jeff Heuerman
  • Nick Vannett
  • Troy Fumagalli
  • Jake Butt
  • Austin Fort
  • Bug Howard

The Broncos also have Andrew Beck, who will likely be the team’s H-back with Andy Janovich being traded to the Cleveland Browns.

Looking at this from a financial perspective, it would not surprise me to see Jeff Heuerman be the guy most impacted by this move.

Overall grade: C

This move is a depth move for the Broncos. Vannett will, at the very best, be a TE2 with Noah Fant and perhaps a capable fill-in as a TE1 in case Fant has to miss any time for injury.

The Broncos paid an appropriate amount for a backup tight end who offers something in the run game as a blocker, but this is not an overwhelming addition, by any means.

Next. Top free agents the Broncos could still pursue. dark

Perhaps the Broncos intend Vannett to be their TE3 behind Fant and Heuerman, but either way, this was a move for depth and Vannett’s impact will likely be more of the non-box score variety, in all likelihood.