Minutes before the deadline for teams to set their initial 53-man rosters, Philadelphia and Denver agreed on a swap that will send Okwuegbunam east in exchange for a 2025 sixth-round pick.
Okwuegbunam, 25, had fallen out of favor in Denver. The former fourth-round pick had shown some promise during Pat Shurmur’s OC tenure and appeared poised to take on a bigger role once the Broncos included Noah Fant in last year’s Russell Wilson trade. That did not end up happening, with Nathaniel Hackett’s staff making Okwuegbunam a healthy scratch at points last season.
The Broncos dangled Okwuegbunam in trades before last year’s deadline, and while the frequent seller team made a big-ticket move (the Bradley Chubb swap) and acquired Jacob Martin from the Jets, “Albert O” stayed put. He finished last season with 10 receptions for 95 yards. The Mizzou alum topped that in his final preseason game this year, totaling 109 receiving yards in what amounted to a showcase effort by the Broncos.
Going from Shurmur’s offense to Hackett’s to Sean Payton’s, Okwuegbunam will now be tasked with learning a fourth system (Nick Sirianni’s) in Philly. The Broncos had added Adam Trautman and Chris Manhertz at tight end this offseason; both had played for Payton in New Orleans. Greg Dulcich quickly overtook Okwuegbunam as the top pass-catching option at the position last year, and the 2022 third-rounder remains as such in Payton’s system. Though, Trautman — acquired via draft-weekend trade — has worked as the Broncos’ starter.
He of a sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash clocking at the 2020 Combine, Okwuegbunam did produce a 330-yard, two-touchdown season in 2021. The former Drew Lock college target did not exceed 450 yards in a season with the SEC program, though he did score an eye-catching 23 touchdowns in three Columbia seasons.
Okwuegbunam will join a tight end group fronted by starter Dallas Goedert and backups Jack Stoll and Grant Calcaterra. The two reserves combined for 16 receptions last season, opening a door for a receiving complement to Goedert. Considering how the past two seasons have gone for Okwuegbunam, he may be set for another uphill battle. But an Eagles team without many weaknesses will take a flier on an athletic pass catcher.