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Bucs keep Cameron Brate with restructured contract

Amended deal allows the team to keep one of the league’s top pass-catching tight end duos intact for new quarterback Tom Brady.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (84) runs the ball in for a touchdown past Atlanta Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen (37) in the final game of last season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (84) runs the ball in for a touchdown past Atlanta Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen (37) in the final game of last season. [ OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]
Published Mar. 22, 2020
Updated Mar. 23, 2020

TAMPA — The Bucs have restructured tight end Cameron Brate’s contract for this upcoming season, allowing the team to keep one of its top red-zone targets over the past several years while gaining added salary-cap flexibility.

Sunday marked an important day for Brate and his future with the Bucs. He was slated to earn $6 million in 2020, and $4 million of that would have become guaranteed Sunday.

With less than $20 million remaining in cap space following a week full of free-agent signings — none bigger than the addition of quarterback Tom Brady — there was uncertainty whether the Bucs would keep Brate or be forced to trade or release him. Restructuring terms were not immediately available, but the Bucs will end up with more cap space.

Brate ranks fourth in touchdown receptions among tight ends since 2015 with 27, trailing only Travis Kelce (32), Kyle Rudolph (30) and Zach Ertz (28). Twenty-four of those catches have come with the Bucs in the red zone. Along with O.J. Howard, the sure-handed Brate gives the Bucs one of the top pass-catching tight end duos in the league.

“I’m extremely grateful to have the opportunity to return to Tampa for my seventh season,” Brate said in a text message to the Times. “I look forward to getting back to work with my teammates in pursuit of a Super Bowl title here in our home stadium. Go Bucs!”

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Retaining Brate allows Brady to inherit another safety valve in his new offense. His days in New England show that he certainly likes to utilize the tight end as a valued part of the passing game.

Brate had 36 receptions for 311 yards and four touchdowns last season, and his 8.6 yards-per-reception average was the lowest of his career. He played just 38 percent of the team’s offensive snaps last year, the least amount since his first full year in the league in 2015. But when he did get the chance for regular playing time, he performed well, including a 10-catch, 73-yard game against New Orleans when he received a season-high 75 percent of offensive snaps.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.