The Buccaneers don’t need Cameron Brate any longer.
Cameron Brate is already one of the best tight ends in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history. During his time with various coaching staffs, quarterbacks, and schemes, Brate has been a stalwart force on the offensive side of the ball. His contributions during the past few seasons and in the second role for Tom Brady last season can’t be underscored, but his time is up in Tampa.
This is a difficult situation to discuss, especially when considering Brate’s performances during the end of the season and the playoffs, but this boils down to need and price.
For a third tight end, Brate is one of the most expensive in the NFL. While a few million dollars doesn’t seem like much on paper, the Bucs will need every penny at the start of the season. When looking at the positions with the most depth and the most money, tight end is the first one to stand out.
Brate currently sits behind Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard. There is a case to make that Brate is actually above Howard based on the young tight end’s chronic injuries, but simply being able to suit up is not enough to make a case for Brate over Howard.
Howard is cheaper, bigger, faster, a better blocker, and more explosive in the passing game. Even if the Bucs gamble and let Brate walk for Howard to get hurt again, betting on players like Howard is the better use of money and player evaluation.
While Brate is a good pass-catcher, that is the peak of his potential in the NFL. He isn’t a great blocker in 12 personnel sets, and his athleticism is far beneath that of a player like Howard. As a second or first option at his current pay, Brate makes plenty of sense, but not in the third role.
Based on this analysis, the Bucs could move on from Brate as early as the draft. There are plenty of teams across the league that could use a veteran tight end, so the Buccaneers may be able to recoup some draft capital in a trade.
In the absence of Brate, Tanner Hudson still has some upside as a receiver, and while his blocking is on par or just below that of Brate’s, his price tag would be the real selling point.
No one wants to see a player like Brate walk, especially after what he has given to this team, but the Bucs need a shakeup at the tight end position to make the salary cap work, and Cameron Brate’s time could be up.
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