2. Albert Okwuegbunam, TE
One position group right now which seems to be pretty set in terms of the 53-man roster is the tight end position. Greg Dulcich and Adam Trautman look like they will be atop the Broncos' depth chart with free agent pickup Chris Manhertz on the roster as the team's top backup.
So where does that leave Albert Okwuegbunam in a contract year? Well, most people seem to think Albert O. is set to be the odd man out, but is that really the case?
Fangio stated just ahead of the 2021 season that he was "really excited" about Okwuegbunam's development and he noted that Albert had picked up right where he left off in 2021. Here is a quote from Vic Fangio on September 2, 2021:
"He’s just picked up from where he left off last year. If you remember last year, he didn't play much early, then he was starting to play more. [He was] playing [well], having success. He's just picked up right from where he left off there. He's blocking [well]. He's a much better blocker than I think people are aware of. We know he can catch, and he's a good runner after the catch. I’m really excited about him."- Vic Fangio (via Broncos PR)
It appeared as though Okwuegbunam was in line to be the Denver Broncos' TE1 last season and even the team appeared to think so when Noah Fant was sent to the Seattle Seahawks in the Russell Wilson trade. The team posted a video of Albert Okwuegbunam basically reacting to being the team's top TE.
Unfortunately, Okwuegbunam found himself in the proverbial doghouse under Nathaniel Hackett, and the 2022 season was virtually a complete waste in terms of utilizing Albert's overall skill-set, adding value to the offense which was struggling for playmakers. He was immediately re-inserted into the lineup after Hackett was fired, and he immediately had a touchdown in the late game against Kansas City upon actually being involved in the game plan.
It will be interesting to see what Okwuegbunam can do now with a clean slate. Could a recommendation from Fangio prompt Sean Payton to not only keep Okwuegbunam on the roster but also net him a prominent role in 2023?