The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a pretty good tight end. Cameron Brate, the former undrafted free agent, catching 57 balls for 660 yards and a whopping eight touchdowns. Pretty good, that, and it made him the Bucs’ second-most productive receiving target.
Pro Football Focus thinks Cameron Brate wasn’t just good, but very good. The eighth-highest rated tight end in the business, in fact — ahead of some very highly-paid tight ends like Martellus Bennett and Delanie Walker.
Meanwhile, Cameron Brate is getting paid the league minimum, and will again be paid that next year, unless the Bucs give him a new long-term contract. That’s certainly possible, but not quite in their interest — cheap, good players don’t come around that often.
Brate’s development has been interesting, to say the least. From a humdrum undrafted free agent, to a run-of-the-mill receiving tight end, to a reliable but not explosive target for Jameis Winston. I think he’s more or less reached his ceiling, but I’ve been wrong about that before — at minimum, he’s a very useful and productive receiving tight end.
The one thing Brate should improve on is his blocking, but that’s not all that remarkable for receiving tight ends. The players who can both block and catch are very rare and hard to find, and you don’t really need them to build a good offense — even though they certainly make that easier.
Getting a player like that, either a highly explosive tight end or one who can both catch and block, would make the Bucs’ offense better. That’s why Alabama’s O.J. Howard and Miami’s David Njoku have shown up in recent mock drafts for the Bucs — but given Brate’s performance, there’s something to be said for looking at other opportunities to upgrade the Tampa Bay offense.