The Broncos released Heuerman on Friday, Mike Klis of 9News Denver reports. The Broncos have invested numerous draft picks on tight ends since Heuerman was selected in the third round in 2015: Noah Fant (2019 first round), Albert Okwuegbunam (2020 fourth), Troy Fumagalli (2018 fifth) and Jake Butt (2017 fifth). Over the past four seasons, Heuerman wasn't exactly productive, playing in 51 games but combining for a 63-678-5 line on 103 targets. He'll look to bolster a TE room elsehwere.
The Broncos drafted Albert Okwuegbunam in the fourth round of the weekend's draft, adding competition for Heuerman, Ryan O'Halloran of The Denver Post reports. Heuerman was already on the roster bubble with the acquisition of Nick Vannett in free agency. Drafting one of Drew Lock's favorite targets at Mizzou may push the veteran off. Noah Fant and Okwuegbunam look to be the future at the position for Denver and Vannett provides a veteran presence. Add Andrew Beck as the only one of the bunch with H-back versatility, and it's hard to see where Heuerman fits, particularly as he can be cut with just a $500,000 cap hit.
The Broncos' signing of Nick Vannett could place Heuerman's roster spot in jeopardy, Troy Renck of Denver 7 News reports. Heuerman had a nice game or two as an underneath receiver for the Broncos in 2019, but he's never quite lived up to the expectations coming out of Ohio State in 2015. It now seems his TE2 role will be taken by Vannett, who was drafted by Seattle out of OSU in 2016. Vannett is mostly known as a blocker, but he put together some nice receiving performances in 2018. With Noah Fant leading the way and cheap, promising youngsters like Andrew Beck and Austin Fort at the bottom of the roster, it would seem there's only room for one of Vannett or Heuerman on the team. Cutting Heuerman would result in a cap hit of $500,000, but a savings of $3.9 million.
Heuerman caught 14 of 20 targets for 114 yards and a touchdown during the 2019 season. Heuerman, not surprisingly, saw a drop-off in production with the rise of rookie first-round pick Noah Fant. Heuerman's 114 receiving yards were a career low despite him tying a career high with 14 games played. The Ohio State product had a couple of nice outings as a short, underneath target -- Week 2 against the Bears and Week 13 against the Chargers come to mind -- but his production was capped thanks to just one reception of 12 or more yards all season and one target inside the 10-yard line. He's a much-needed veteran presence in a young tight end room and may benefit from tight end enthusiast Pat Shurmur taking over as offensive coordinator in 2020. The question will be whether he can stave off young reserve tight ends including Andrew Beck, Troy Fumagalli and Austin Fort.
Heuerman caught both of his targets for 13 yards during Sunday's 27-17 win over Detroit. Heuerman caught multiple passes for just the second time since Week 3. The veteran tight end has had slightly more production with Drew Lock under center (1.5 catches for nine yards per game) than he did with Denver's other passers (one catch for 8.7 yards per game), but even the improved stats don't inspire much excitement. Heuerman ends the season against an Oakland defense that held him catchless in Week 1.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/12||@New York Giants||10||6.63|
|3||09/26||New York Jets||32||11.25|
|6||10/17||Las Vegas Raiders||15||7.13|
|8||10/31||Washington Football Team||9||6.47|
|12||11/28||Los Angeles Chargers||22||7.88|
|13||12/05||@Kansas City Chiefs||30||9.68|
|16||12/26||@Las Vegas Raiders||15||7.13|
|17||01/02||@Los Angeles Chargers||22||7.88|
|18||01/09||Kansas City Chiefs||30||9.68|
|3 Year Avg||23||15||132||1||8||8.80||19|