Broncos training camp: Can Austin Fort be a factor again?
Can Austin Fort be a factor in Broncos training camp again in 2020?
The competition for the Denver Broncos’ tight end position at training camp in 2020 is going to be absolutely wild.
The Broncos obviously have two players in Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam who are locks for the final roster but beyond those two guys, it’s anyone’s guess as to which players will emerge from the camp competition.
One player who should not be written off? Second-year player Austin Fort.
Fort is coming into 2020 training camp with a couple of pretty prominent disadvantages.
First of all, he tore his ACL last preseason. Unfortunately, that cut short an extremely strong roster bid for the 2019 season and there were plenty of people out there who felt like Fort had done enough at the time of his injury to already earn a roster spot.
That impressive camp and preseason run was cut off prematurely.
The second disadvantage for Fort at this point? He’s got a new coaching staff to impress and a new offense to show his stuff in.
That could end up being a very good thing for Fort, who really fits the mold of the FLEX tight end, a player who can play in-line but is probably better served as a big slot and more prominent option in the passing game than the running game.
The one great advantage that Fort has is that there really isn’t any attachment between the current tight end group and the new coaching staff.
Other than Noah Fant – a first-round pick with star qualities – and Albert Okwuegbunam – a tight end picked by the new regime – what tight ends are really guaranteed roster spots on the Broncos?
The guy with the strongest argument is probably Nick Vannett, who signed a two-year contract in free agency worth $5.7 million in total money, but if the Broncos would cut him they would take on a $1.625 million dead cap hit.
They’ve certainly taken bigger hits than that, though that’s not really a sunk cost they want to probably take.
The next player who might be getting a bit underrated is Jeff Heuerman, the veteran of the group who has been around since 2015. Heuerman’s injury history and lack of major involvement in the passing game certainly factor into his being a bit underrated in the competition, but this particular position group competition seems like it’s really anyone’s to win.
Fort showed off his ability to get open all throughout 2019 training camp and even down to the final play of his preseason reps when he tore his ACL. He has at least a bit of chemistry with Drew Lock, which could play to his advantage as well.
There are certainly plenty of reasons not to write off Fort as a roster option for 2020, especially if the Broncos wind up keeping four tight ends around.