Let me state this for the record: I am a fan of Cameron Brate, now that this has been said, it’s time to face a tough reality.
In 2016, Cameron Brate was the #1 tight end in the NFL, statistically. Since then, Brate hasn’t been able to produce at that level consistently. Yes, I know he has been hurt a lot, and yes, I also know that there are more mouths to feed (weapons for Winston to throw to) on Tampa’s offense. Does Brate still have the potential to be a difference maker for the Bucs? Yes. Does it seem realistic or likely? No.
I am aware that Bruce Arians has said that he would like to use both O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate in a dual tight end set. Seeing as how Howard is the clear cut #1 option at tight end, although it never hurts to have depth in case of an injury, it’s going to be hard for Brate to make a meaningful enough of an impact on the field in order to justify keeping him on the roster. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Breshad Perriman, and O.J. Howard is all going to get the ball thrown to them before Brate does. That’s a fact. That’s not even counting all of the running plays for Peyton Barber. Barber is going to get his carries, which will be significantly more touches than Brate would even get targeted.
Let’s not forget, our Bucs have almost no salary cap space. Yes, I know the roster doesn’t have to be finalized for a few more months, and there will be cuts, but it’s desperation time for Jason Licht and company. The Bucs don’t have the money to sign any of their draft picks. That’s a problem.
Brate is making far too much money to be a backup tight end. In 2018, he signed a six-year contract worth $40,800,000 dollars with $7 million dollars guaranteed at signing, but only $18 million of that $40,800,000 is guaranteed. Brate is due to make $7 million dollars in 2019. His 2019 salary already guaranteed on March 17th of this year, so that deadline has already passed. His contract includes a $7 million dollar cap hit this year, as well as $7 million in dead cap. According to Spotrac.com, $4 million dollars of Brate’s 2020 salary becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth league day of 2020. Brate is also 28 years old, so he’s not as young as he used to be.
With all of this said, the time has come for Cameron Brate to be traded or released. If I were Jason Licht, I would prefer to trade him to a team who is desperate for a tight end, such as New England. The Bucs need to try to get something for him in return rather than just take the cap hit. Tampa needs to start making some moves to create some cap space in a hurry. No offense or disrespect to Cameron Brate, because I do like him, but the NFL is a business. It’s not a wise investment to keep him around. He’s not getting any better. Jason Licht, I hope you’re listening.