Cameron Brate has been better.
This is perhaps the most significant. Now, before we continue this is not saying that Cameron Brate is a better athlete, blocker, or receiver than Howard. In fact, if we’re being honest, his ceiling is probably lower as well. However, one thing that Brate has been better at than Howard has been staying on the field.
Since joining the Buccaneers in 2014 as an undrafted free agent, out of Harvard of all places, Brate did things the hard way. He fought for a roster spot for about two years, and since joining the team full time, hasn’t missed a game since 2016, when he missed one. For reference the season before in 2015 he missed two.
Sure, Brate’s regualar seaon stats as the second tight end have been nothing to write home about, but there’s more than just the regualar season. Rob Gronkowski got a lot of praise for his playoff performance of eight catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns, both of which coming in Super Bowl LV. Gronk obviously isn’t going anywhere.
As for Brate? His playoff numbers were 14 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown, which came in the third quarter of the NFC Championship Game, the last touchdown the Bucs would score in the game. Not only are those playoff numbers comparable to Gronk, but they are also objectively better, except for the one fewer touchdown. Howard of course has yet to appear in a playoff game.
What Brate may lack in skill and athleticism, he makes up for with his dependability and reliability when compared to Howard. Of course in a perfect world the Bucaneers can keep all three tight ends, and that world may very well be a reality, but if the Buccaneers are to make a move to free up space, it should be trading O.J. Howard, and it should be soon.