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'That was something we were looking for': Broncos fill need with trade for TE Adam Trautman

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos added three players in the first three rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft on Friday.

The following day, they found a way to gain another top-100 selection.

In addition to the two selections the Broncos made on Saturday to close this year's draft, they also executed a trade to acquire tight end Adam Trautman. The 2020 third-round pick filled a need and added another high-caliber player to the roster.

"We felt this was one of the needs for us coming in," Head Coach Sean Payton said after the end of the draft. "We couldn't force that, and so when we passed that little area or sweet spot of tight ends and maybe drafted another player yesterday, this kind of came up."

Payton, who drafted Trautman in New Orleans, said the Broncos comped the fourth-year player to "a few of the other third-round [tight ends]." Instead of using a Day 2 pick, the Broncos were able to add Trautman by sending a sixth-rounder to the Saints for a seventh-rounder.

"We drafted Adam out of Dayton," Payton said. "He played for us for two years. In describing the player, he's that versatile tight end that can play the 'F' [receiving] tight end. He played a lot, most recently, on the ball. Generally when you draft a tight end out of college, they do one thing better than the other. Blocker first, then [catching]. When we drafted Adam, we felt like he was kind of one of those guys that was solid in both areas. We utilized him [in New Orleans] depending on who was up and who was down, who was healthy — both in-line and at the 'F' position. … He's clean, great makeup, great character."

Payton said the Broncos had a "head start" on scouting Trautman because of their time together in New Orleans — and he said the addition of the tight end was "just as exciting" as any of the team's other picks.

"That was something we were looking for," Payton said.

The Broncos' trade for Trautman doesn't have any immediate impact on the team's plans at tight end, as Payton said the four players on the roster are "all competing right now."

Trautman joins Greg Dulcich, Chris Manhertz and Albert Okwuegbunam on the Broncos' roster.

"How do they fare during the offseason?" Payton said. "How do they do in training camp? It's a position that has become more valued in our league relative to some of the matchups you can create and what you want to do running the football. So all of those guys that you mentioned, every one of them, man, we're rooting for them and putting them in positions. If one of them is a better receiver, then we're going to spend hours trying to come up with things they do well, develop the things that they don't. I go back to … Jason Witten or Jeremy Shockey or Jimmy Graham. … They've all done … maybe one thing better than the other. I think our jobs as coaches is to kind of give them those songs that fit their skill set."

Denver, though, won't determine a starter at this juncture.

"We would never sit in here in April and lay out who we think [will start]," Payton said. "I have no idea how that's going to unfold, but I know we have more options to see how it unfolds, as opposed to penciling in starting lineups. … We knew we felt like we needed this versatile tight end that could block and have some ability to catch, and we were lucky really that we didn't have to draft it. We weren't able to … and the mistake, then, is you create it and reach for it in the draft. We didn't have to do it."

Instead, the Broncos traded for another contributor — and bolstered their tight end room in the process.

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