Don’t sleep on Cameron Brate

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 18: Cameron Brate
ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 18: Cameron Brate /

Cameron Brate remains a pivotal player in the Buccaneers offense but why is nobody talking about him?

Throughout the offseason, O.J. Howard has been deemed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting tight end. Cameron Brate, on the other hand, has taken a back seat.

While Howard is likely to be on the field slightly more often than Brate, it seems as if many have forgotten how vital Brate is to the Bucs passing attack.

The Harvard product hasn’t garnered much attention. Training camp has been all about Howard and how often he is lined up with the first team.

Quietly, Brate has had a good camp and has continued to work with Winston, including the first preseason game where they connected for 17 yards. When the final whistle blew, Brate racked up 48 yards on five catches.

Ironically, there wasn’t a mention of Brate who ended up as the team’s second-leading receiver.

Brate’s quiet night will likely define his 2018 season with Tampa. As Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Howard make the splash plays, the former undrafted free agent will be the dink-and-dunk target. Fighting off linebackers to secure eight-yard passes on third down.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers /

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Recently, Pro Football Focus’ Gordon McGuinness broke down the top five tight end contracts in football and Brate landed at number four on the list.

Despite drafting Howard in the first round last year, they signed Brate to a six-year, $41 million contract in March.

Last season, Brate caught 48 passes for 591 yards and six touchdowns last season. While his 2017 campaign was nothing to brush aside, 2016 was an even better year for Brate. He led the league in touchdowns among tight ends and became Jameis Winston‘s safety blanket.

Brate has not only been a factor in the red zone but on third downs too. His ability to haul in catches in tight situations has turned him into a trusted target, especially in the eyes of Winston.

Brate may not lead the team in touchdowns next year or even match Howard’s production. But why does it seems like he has become an afterthought?

With his bargain of a contract and the rapport he has with Winston, Brate will play an essential role in the Buccaneers offense.

Technically, he won’t be the starter, but Brate will see plenty of snaps on Sundays. Expect a great deal of two tight end sets and formations to get Brate on the field often. There are plenty of weapons on the Buccaneers offense, but with what could be a lackluster running game, there will be plenty of targets to go around as well.

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His top-ten production among tight ends, cheap contract and ability to stay healthy make Brate an integral piece to Tampa Bay’s offense.