Maybe it’s the mustache? Bucs’ Cade Otton breaks out with new look

The tight end, who had a breakout game against the Texans, credits a blossoming relationship with quarterback Baker Mayfield and possibly his new facial hair.
Bucs tight end Cade Otton runs with the ball after making a catch during last Sunday's game against the Texans in Houston. He caught six passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns.
Bucs tight end Cade Otton runs with the ball after making a catch during last Sunday's game against the Texans in Houston. He caught six passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns. [ ERIC GAY | AP ]
Published Nov. 10, 2023

TAMPA — Cade Otton isn’t going anywhere near a razor this week. The Bucs tight end isn’t exactly giving credit for his breakout game Sunday against the Texans to his newly grown mustache, but he’s not willing to risk shaving it at this point, either.

“We’ll take it day by day,” Otton said Wednesday. “It’s a fun thing the tight ends are doing. We decided last Wednesday to bring a little energy to the building. We’ll see what happens, but we’re just going to rock with it for now.”

In the first week since they decided to grow out their facial hair (quarterback Baker Mayfield took part, too), Otton has a pretty full growth of light brown hair over his top lip and a career-best game to show for it.

Sunday, he had a team-high six catches for 70 yards, including two touchdowns, on nine targets. The receptions tied a career high, the targets were his most in an NFL game, and his 24-yard reception was his longest of the season.

Otton’s two touchdowns also were a career high. He scored on receptions of 3 and 14 yards from Mayfield, who leaned into the story of the strength of the ‘stache.

“It was the power of the mustache, honestly, and the connection there for the two touchdowns,” Mayfield said Wednesday with a laugh. “Cade is a stud. He’s going to run the right route based on coverage. He’s going to be in the right spot.

“That first one, he did a great job just helping out protection. He’s not the first read, but he understands the concept of coming in late for when they drop out in their zone coverage. He did a great job on that one. Then the fourth-quarter one, he told me exactly what he was going to do if it was a certain coverage, and it happened to be that way,

“That open-communication line between skill guys and the QB is so important,” Mayfield added. “I think we have that throughout the whole skill group, but yeah, Cade just continues to do that consistently.”

With receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin drawing most of Houston’s notice, Otton and Mayfield saw an opportunity.

“Obviously, they are amazing players who demand a lot of attention. So I just was able to have some space in the middle of the field, and Baker was just able to find me a few different times,” Otton said. “Week in, week out, it might happen with different players stepping up. So I just want to be there and be ready when the opportunity comes.”

Otton’s two touchdowns Sunday were twice as many as he had in the first seven games combined. He said he is becoming more comfortable with Mayfield, something the two can use to their advantage on the field.

“I think just as the season goes on we’re just getting more and more reps, and so definitely feel like there’s a connection being made there,” Otton said. “It’s really fun to just kind of grow with him.”

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Though Mayfield and Otton had connected on only one prior touchdown, it didn’t mean the Bucs weren’t getting anything from the 2022 fourth-round pick. He has 28 receptions for 244 yards through the first eight games.

“Cade is our Steady Eddie,” head coach Todd Bowles said. “I’ve said all along, he’s one of the most underrated players we have. You look up at the end of the day, he does everything. He has outstanding hands, he has a great feel for the game.

“He may not be the most athletic or the biggest or the strongest, but he’s the most complete and the most solid guy. He does a lot of things well for us. You saw that last week.”

Otton credited his career day with some “good mojo” from the mustache bonding experiment. Still, he’s not overly committed to the look.

“We’ll see how this week goes,” he said. “We just wanted to bring a different look, some different energy into the locker room. The mustache is a day-to-day thing right now.”

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