By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Transaction: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers extend the contract of TE Cameron Brate
2018 Fantasy Outlook: When the Bucs drafted Alabama TE O.J. Howard in the first round in the 2017 Draft, many thought Cameron Brate’s role in the offense would diminish and he’d likely move on at the end of his contract. The Bucs went against conventional wisdom and signed Brate to a six-year extension.
On the surface, the move is pretty sound. Over the last two years, Brate ranks 10th in total receptions, 10th in receiving yards, and 3rd in receiving TDs among TEs. Brate is also one of six TEs to finish in the top 10 in fantasy over the last two years. The others? Travis Kelce, Kyle Rudolph, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, and Delanie Walker. Pretty solid company if you ask me.
With production like this over the last two seasons, I have a couple questions. Why draft a TE with your 1st round pick when you have needs all across your roster? And if you spent a first rounder on said TE, why not trade Brate and get a meaningful draft pick for him to help replenish your barren defense? Offense doesn’t seem to be the problem in Tampa Bay. The Bucs ranked 9th in total offense in 2017 — 4th in passing offense, 27th in rushing offense, and 18th in scoring offense. Okay, so maybe they could use a little work on offense, but numbers can be skewed when your starting QB misses three games like Jameis Winston did.
With this extension and the presence of O.J. Howard looming, can Brate maintain his TE1 production? I’m inclined to say yes, if anything because Winston has an affinity for Brate. But here’s what I saw in 2017: teams forget about Howard and the Bucs used him for more big plays than Brate. Brate has almost twice the number of targets and catches to Howard — 77 to 39 and 48 to 26, respectively. Now look at the yards and scores: Brate had 591 yards and 6 TDs to Howard’s 432 and 6. Howard also had nine receptions over 20 yards to Brate’s five.
What the Bucs have are two completely different TEs. Howard is a do-it-all TE who should be more of a focal point in this offense with his ability to block and spring for the big play. Brate does the dirty work. He works within the hashmarks and picks up first downs with ease — 33 of his 48 receptions went for 1st downs. Is all that worth close to $7 million a year? When you’re not paying your QB top of the market money, sure. The Bucs just extended superstar WR Mike Evans as well and have no real talent to pay big bucks to on defense. Brate will likely fall in my top 15 at TE, but I think his ceiling is TE9 or TE10.