Tight end Adam Trautman was traded from New Orleans to Denver during the 2023 NFL Draft, where he reunites with Sean Payton. It turns out Trautman spearheaded the move.
“Oh yeah, absolutely,” Trautman told Mike Klis of 9NEWS Denver on Sunday. “I was actually hoping to get moved. This was initiated by me personally. I’ve been waiting for a little bit for something to materialize and it just happened to be the Broncos, obviously.”
A third-round pick by the Saints in 2020, he generated 42 catches for 434 yards and three touchdowns in two years under Payton. But in 2022, he saw his play time dwindle under the reshuffled coaching staff. Trautman caught 18 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown in 15 games last season.
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The 26-year-old placed blame on the coaching staff for his lack of opportunities.
“I feel like I was placed somewhat in a box,” Trautman said. “They put a limit on what I could contribute and I felt like I could contribute a lot more. I was primarily used as a blocker. I thought I could do more and I didn’t want to get to the end of my career and think I could have done it, caught the ball a little more.
“Whatever the case was, the team I was playing for just didn’t let me do it. I want a chance to prove I can do it because I believe I can and I have in the past.”
Former undrafted free agent Juwan Johnson leapfrogged Trautman for the top TE gig in the Saints offense last season, finishing second on the club with 508 yards on 42 catches with a team-high seven TD receptions.
Trautman’s inconsistency played a role in his dwindling play time last season. Johnson proved he was a better, more consistent player, so it’s little surprise the two flip-flopped roles in the year after Payton left.
“I didn’t feel like I was reaching my potential as a player,” Trautman said. “All you want to do after you’ve busted your tail for 20-something years to get to this point, you want to exhaust everything you can so someone doesn’t put a cap or a limit on your abilities. And I feel like that was happening back in New Orleans. I talked to my agent (Chase Callahan) and we determined it was best to move on and get to a new place and fresh start.”
Johnson signed a two-year, $12.01 million contract with the Saints this offseason. Trautman enters the final year of his rookie deal with a $2.743 million non-guaranteed base salary.
Trautman joins a Denver TE room that includes 2022 third-round pick Greg Dulcich, 2020 fourth-rounder Albert Okwuegbunam and Chris Manhertz. The Broncos traded a sixth-round selection to New Orleans for Trautman and a seventh-round selection.
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