The Denver Broncos acquired fullback Chris Gronkowski on Wednesday, trading cornerback Cassius Vaughn to the Indianapolis Colts. VP John Elway made the announcement Wednesday morning via Twitter.
Gronkowski is the brother of record-setting tight end Rob, who carried the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl last season. Both are big, athletic football players, but Chris had a dodgy first two years in the NFL while brother Rob took off his sophomore season.
Chris Gronkowski started his career as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Arizona in 2010. He earned a roster spot with the Cowboys in his rookie year and caught a touchdown pass in his first start.
Unfortunately, Gronkowski is best known for a missed blocking assignment that led to a brutal sack on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo. The play resulted in Romo breaking his collarbone just seven weeks into the 2010 Season.
The Indianapolis Colts acquired Gronkowski off waivers before the 2011 Season. He played sparingly in the first seven weeks of the season before ceding time to other backs.
The Broncos have a dearth of defensive backs, making Vaughn expendable. When they made the trade, Denver only had one fullback on the roster – second year player Austin Sylvester. The acquisition of Gronkowski likely indicates a new wrinkle in the Denver offense as Peyton Manning continues to shape the gameplan.
While he has primarily been used as a blocking fullback, Gronkowski has capable hands out of the backfield. At 6’2” and 235 lbs, Chris may only get carries on short-yardage plays, but you can bet that the Broncos will try to work him into the passing attack.
Between Gronkowski, explosive pass-catching rookie RB Ronnie Hillman, and rehabbing former first-rounder Knowshon Moreno, Denver will be trying to get the ball to its backs in space this NFL season.