Brate is excited about the prospect of what 2017 first-round pick O.J. Howard can bring to the offense, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports. "We're really excited to have a guy like him in our offense, someone big enough to block the d-ends and athletic enough to go out for passes, " said Brate. "It opens up our offense to pretty much do whatever we want in terms of lining up guys in different spots and being multiple in our personnel." Brate met his new position mate on Friday morning before the opening of rookie minicamp and came away impressed with Howard's humble demeanor. He's even more taken with the upside that the first-round pick offers on the field, and he also believes that the addition of the speedy DeSean Jackson will open up the middle of the field for both Howard and himself by removing a safety from the equation. Brate also worked on becoming a more physical tight end this offseason, integrating some MMA into his workouts with a trainer in California. He's been completely recovered from the fractured transverse process in his lower back that cost him the last game of the 2016 season, meaning he'll be able to participate without restrictions in OTAs when they kick off in two weeks.
Brate, who saw a career-high 81 targets in 2016 as the unquestioned No. 1 tight end for the majority of the season, projects to be involved in plenty of two-tight end sets with heralded No. 1 pick O.J. Howard in the coming season, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. "We were fortunate enough to add speed on the outside with DeSean Jackson to pair up with Mike [Evans] and now we've got two tight ends to pair side by side in [Cameron Brate] and O.J.," said head coach Dirk Koetter. While the Harvard product exceeded everyone's expectations with a 57-catch, eight-touchdown season, blocking wasn't exactly his strong suit, which played a part in the Bucs running game being ranked near the bottom of the league in most major categories in 2016. Howard brings a more complete skill set that includes freakish downfield speed for a player of his size, along with the pedigree of a No. 1 pick. However, it's notable that Brate already has experience carving out a niche alongside an athletic tight end with superior measurables in the form of the mercurial and since-departed Austin Seferian-Jenkins. In fact, the defensive attention that Howard is likely to command in the middle of the field could make life much easier for Brate by affording him plenty of one-on-one matchups. The sure hands, dependable route running and overall toughness that Brate displayed last season are not likely to be forsaken by Koetter regardless of Howard's presence, and as per Scott Smith of the team's official site, the Bucs head coach went out of his way to reassure his incumbent tight end of that personally following Tampa's first-round selection Thursday.
Brate officially signed his one-year exclusive rights tender Monday, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. The emerging tight end was tendered on Feb. 28 but officially inked his deal Monday. Brate projects as a key component of the Bucs' offense in the coming season after a breakout campaign that saw him set career highs in receptions (57), yards (660), and touchdowns (10), although DeSean Jackson's arrival figures to eat into some of the 81 targets he saw in 2016.
The Bucs have an interest in signing Brate (back) to a multi-year deal before he hits restricted free agency next offseason, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The Harvard product was tendered a one-year contract as an exclusive rights free agent back on Feb. 28, but the Bucs apparently have an interest in making a longer-term commitment. Brate thrived as the clear-cut starting tight end once former second-round pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins was released after Week 2 last season, setting career highs in receptions (57), yards (660) and touchdowns (10) while leading the team with a 63.2 percent red-zone catch rate. Still only 25 years of age, Brate would potentially garner a fair amount of attention as a restricted free agent with another strong season, a scenario the Bucs can avoid if they're able to lock him up before next offseason.
Brate (back) is expected to be available for the Buccaneers' offseason program, ESPN.com's Jenna Laine reports. Brate ended up missing the Bucs' Week 17 game against the Panthers while dealing with a small fracture in the transverse process of his spine, but the tight end's agent confirmed Wednesday that his client is "good to go" for OTAs in April. The 25-year-old submitted a breakout season in 2016, supplanting Austin Seferian-Jenkins as the team's starting tight end and hauling in 57 catches for 660 yards, trailing only Pro Bowl wideout Mike Evans in both categories for the team. The Buccaneers have already re-signed Brate to an exclusive rights free-agent deal that will keep him in the fold for 2017, so look for him to remain highly involved in the Tampa Bay passing attack for at least another year.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|4||10/01||New York Giants||21||7.41|
|5||10/06||New England Patriots||9||6.00|
|9||11/05||@New Orleans Saints||16||6.88|
|10||11/12||New York Jets||27||8.75|
|13||12/03||@Green Bay Packers||23||7.89|
|17||12/31||New Orleans Saints||16||6.88|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||37||27||322||4||18||11.93||56|