Cameron Brate

NFC South Notes: Hill, Brate, Walker

The Saints expect Taysom Hill to take over for Drew Brees when Brees calls it a career, and to that end, they placed a first-round RFA tender on the BYU product earlier this month. Teddy Bridgewater had served as the backup to Brees over the past couple of seasons while Hill’s role as a gadget player grew, but head coach Sean Payton confirmed that Hill will be the QB2 in 2020. “He’s earned that opportunity,” Payton said (Twitter link via Jeff Duncan of The Athletic).

However, the team still expects to use Hill as a rusher and receiver next season, so Payton said New Orleans will add another QB that will be active on game days (Twitter link via Duncan). The Saints are expected to explore a long-term contract for Hill in the near future.

Now for more from the NFC South:

  • Cameron Brate‘s recent restructure with the Buccaneers is better classified as a pay cut. Per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Brate accepted a decrease in his 2020 salary from $6MM to $4.25MM (Twitter link). The move will keep Brate, a quality red zone target, in the fold for Tom Brady while buying the team a little more cap space.
  • Several days ago, the Panthers beat out several clubs for the services of XFL signal-caller P.J. Walker. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle says Walker’s pact with Carolina is a two-year deal worth $1.565MM, a pretty nice haul for an XFLer who has yet to crack an active roster in the NFL (Twitter link).
  • CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson‘s new one-year deal with the Falcons includes a base salary of $1.05MM and a singing bonus of $137.5K, as Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com tweets.

Bucs Restructure TE Cameron Brate’s Contract

The Buccaneers have restructured the contract of tight end Cameron Brate, per Greg Auman of The Athletic (via Twitter). Earlier this month, Brate was rumored as a trade or release candidate, but Brate’s presence could prove critical for newly-minted QB Tom Brady.

Details of the restructure are not yet known, but it’s worth noting that $4MM of Brate’s $6MM 2020 salary was due to become guaranteed today. He will team with O.J. Howard to form a potentially formidable TE tandem for Brady, who will have a lot more weapons to work with in 2020 than he did in his last year with New England.

Brate, who will turn 29 in July, signed a six-year, $41MM deal ($18MM guaranteed) with the Bucs in March 2018. Over the prior two seasons, he averaged 52 catches for 625 yards and seven TDs, but the 2018-19 campaigns were not as kind to him. He underwent hip surgery last January, and his per-season averages dipped to 33/300/5.

But if nothing else, the former UDFA out of Harvard profiles as a reliable red zone threat, and he could become more with Brady under center.

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Bucs Notes: Winston, Godwin, Howard

In addition to the thumb injury that we heard about in early January, Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston was also playing through a torn meniscus for at least some of 2019, as Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports (video link). Per Rapoport, Winston recently had surgery to trim the meniscus tear.

Though Winston’s boom-or-bust tendencies remain an obvious concern, the toughness that he displayed in battling the injuries may help him land a new contract with Tampa, which may have winnowed down its quarterback options to Winston and Philip Rivers.

Now for more from the Bucs:

  • Standout receiver Chris Godwin is now eligible for an extension since he has completed three years in the league, but that is not a front-burner item on the Bucs’ agenda just yet, per Greg Auman of The Athletic. Auman says the club will look to take care of its 2020 FAs first and then see if there is money left in the budget for a new contract for Godwin. Barring something unforeseen, it would be a huge surprise if Tampa lets Godwin hit the open market in 2021.
  • There were rumors that the Bucs were looking to trade much-maligned TE O.J. Howard at the 2019 deadline, and though that did not happen, the former first-rounder was still viewed as a trade candidate this offseason. But as Auman notes, the club still believes in Howard, and it sounds like he will be back in 2020. Fellow TE Cameron Brate, however, could be a trade or release candidate.
  • The Bucs are very young at CB, which has led many to believe that the club will draft a corner with an early pick or sign one in the first wave of free agency, but that’s not necessarily the case. As Auman writes, Tampa is very high on Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean, and Sean Murphy-Bunting, so a late-round pick or modest FA signing may be more likely.
  • Likewise, Tampa is bullish on its cadre of safeties, but 2017 second-rounder Justin Evans‘s stock is trending downward, per Auman. Evans has not been healthy enough to practice in a long time, and although the team hoped he would be fully recovered by April 1 and would participate in spring workouts at OTAs, it’s now unclear whether he will be back at all.
  • Unsurprisingly, it does not sound like the Bucs will look to re-sign free agent RB Peyton Barber, per Auman.

Cameron Brate To Be Ready By Training Camp

In January, Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. In an interview this week, the veteran pass catcher told Scott Reynolds of PewterReport.com he expects to be ready for training camp. 

Brate suffered the injury during the 2017 season but elected to not have surgery in hopes that it would heal on its own. It did not, and the tight end was hampered throughout the 2018 campaign. It showed in his production, as Brate produced just 30 grabs for 289 yards following back-to-back seasons with at least 48 receptions and 575 yards.

Even with the injury, Brate still was a prime performer in the red zone, snagging six touchdowns. It marked the third consecutive campaign the tight end logged at least six scoring grabs.

Though he elected to not have surgery originally, it was thought O.J. Howard would shoulder a larger load throughout the 2018 season. Unfortunately, the second-year tight end was placed on season-ending IR late in November after suffering foot and ankle injuries.

Both of those tight end’s returns will help Jameis Winston in a year that Tampa Bay will be breaking in new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich

 

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Buccaneers Notes: McCoy, Smith, Brate

As a fourth new Buccaneers coaching staff this decade continues to gather intel early in a pivotal offseason, here is the latest out of Tampa. It’s looking like Gerald McCoy will be part of Bruce Arians‘ first Bucs squad.

  • Arians and his new staff have evaluated McCoy and view the stalwart interior defender as a good fit, even as the team transitions to a 3-4 defense, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. McCoy is not in line to be traded or released, per Stroud, who adds the 10th-year defensive lineman was confident he would return to finish out the 2010s with the Bucs. A McCoy move was considered possible, with Jason Licht not guaranteeing the former top-five pick’s status with the 2019 team. McCoy coming back would mean a move to defensive end, but with teams spending so much time in nickel sets, the longtime 4-3 defensive tackle should see plenty of time as an interior presence next season.
  • McCoy will turn 31 on Monday, and after recording at least seven sacks from 2013-16, the former Oklahoma standout has registered six in each of the past two seasons. While McCoy remains an upper-echelon defensive tackle, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com writes his $13MM 2019 salary seems lofty. However, Laine adds that trading McCoy would likely only fetch the Bucs a fourth- or fifth-round pick. There are a few defensive tackles in free agency, even if the Falcons tag Grady Jarrett. Ndamukong Suh and Sheldon Richardson are back in free agency. And this year’s defensive line class being one of the best in many years further weakens McCoy’s value.
  • Another player considered a possible departure candidate could well be staying in Tampa as well. Donovan Smith is three weeks away from free agency, but Laine notes the four-year left tackle starter is not going anywhere. The Bucs will either tag Smith or extend him before free agency’s outset, per Laine. Smith has not graded as a top-tier tackle in the view of Pro Football Focus, but he has been a durable edge blocker, never missing a game. That said, a Smith tag would cost the Bucs approximately $14MM. It is debatable if he would receive that AAV on the open market, even considering how well offensive linemen have fared in recent free agency periods. A long-term Smith deal is expected to be in the $12-$13MM-per-year range, Laine adds.
  • Although Cameron Brate signed an extension to stay in Tampa last year, no dead money remains on the tight end’s deal. Arians, though, intends to keep the Bucs’ TE2 for 2019, Stroud notes. Arians, whose Cardinals teams did not have a consistent receiving threat from the tight end position, is intrigued by having two with the Bucs, per Stroud. Brate will make $7MM this coming season. He underwent hip surgery after this season, however. Both Bucs tight ends are coming off injuries, with foot and ankle maladies ending O.J. Howard‘s season.

Bucs TE Cameron Brate Underwent Surgery

Cameron Brate recently underwent surgery to remedy a hip injury that bothered him throughout the 2018 campaign.

ESPN’s Jenna Laine writes that the Buccaneers tight end underwent arthroscopic surgery last week to repair a torn labrum in his hip. Brate reportedly played through much of the 2018 season with the injury.

Brate is currently on crutches after have undergone a procedure that required the removal of bone fragments. The 27-year-old’s recovery time is expected to be a “few months.” The team is planning to ease him back into OTAs, and they hope he’ll be good to go by the time June’s minicamp comes around.

Considering he had to play through an injury that’s described as “very painful,” it’s not overly surprising that Brate struggled in 2018. The Harvard product ultimately finished the season having hauled in 30 receptions for 289 yards and six touchdowns, with Pro Football Focus ranking him 62nd among 71 eligible tight ends. However, Brate has 1,251 yards and 14 touchdowns between 2016 and 2017, with Pro Football Focus giving him grades that ranked among the best in the NFL.

Fellow Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard landed on the injured reserve with an ankle/foot injury in Week 12, but the former first-rounder should also be good to go by the time the regular season comes around. The team also has fellow tight ends Antony AuclairDonnie Ernsberger, and Tanner Hudson under contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Extend Cameron Brate

Cameron Brate is set to be a member of the Buccaneers for a long time. The tight end has agreed to a six-year extension, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).

Brate, 27 in July, was slated to be a restricted free agent this offseason. It’s a six-year, $41MM agreement for Brate, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports, adding that $18MM will be guaranteed.

The Bucs have decided to devote plenty of resources to stocking their tight end position, considering they used their first-round pick on O.J. Howard last year. But Brate continued to be a key weapon on Tampa Bay’s offense last season despite Howard’s arrival. The former undrafted free agent out of Harvard finished the 2017 campaign with 48 receptions for 591 yards and six scores.

Brate has now caught 14 touchdown passes over the past two years and has amassed more than 1,300 receiving yards in that span. He and Howard combined for 12 touchdown grabs, and the Bucs are keen on making tight end targeting a key component of future offenses. Pair this duo with quarterback Jameis Winston and wideouts Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Chris Godwin, and the Buccaneers should have another top-10 passing attack in 2018.

With a $6.8MM-per-year salary, Brate will fall into the middle tier of tight end contracts (right behind Coby Fleener, C.J. Fiedorowicz, and Jermaine Gresham). This will provide a major raise, however, after the former UDFA out of Harvard made just $690K last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/17/17

The latest minor moves…

  • Raiders defensive end Denico Autry has signed his RFA tender, reports ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link). The Raiders gave the 2014 undrafted free agent an original-round tender, leading to speculation that he could draw interest from elsewhere. Instead, Autry will return to the Raiders on the heels of back-to-back three-sack seasons. ERFAs Seth Roberts (WR) and Denver Kirkland (G) are also back in the fold, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (on Twitter).
  • The Seahawks have re-signed linebacker Kache Palacio, writes Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Palacio, a former fullback who went undrafted out of Washington State last year, spent most of 2016 on Seattle’s practice squad.
  • Lions ERFAs Brandon Copeland (DE), Kerry Hyder (DT) and T.J. Jones (WR) have signed their tenders, tweets Birkett. Dolphins ERFAs Mike Hull (LB) and Anthony Steen (C) did the same earlier Monday, per Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).

Earlier updates:

  • The Panthers have re-upped restricted free agent guard Andrew Norwell and a pair of exclusive rights free agents – center Tyler Larsen and punter Michael Palardy – writes Bryan Strickland of their website. Carolina used a second-round tender on Norwell, who will earn $2.746MM in 2017. Norwell combined for 29 starts over the previous two seasons and ranked 11th in performance among Pro Football Focus’ 72 qualified guards last year.
  • Steelers RFA cornerback Ross Cockrell has inked his original-round tender, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). Cockrell went in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, so the Steelers would have been entitled to a fourth-rounder had Cockrell signed elsewhere and they elected against matching the offer. The 25-year-old caught on with the Steelers in 2015 and has since totaled 31 appearances, 23 starts and two interceptions. Cockrell started in every Steelers game last year, and his performance ranked an improve 28th among 111 qualified corners at PFF.
  • Chiefs RFA kicker Cairo Santos has signed his tender, per Schefter (on Twitter). Santos, undrafted in 2014, received a low tender; as such, Kansas City wouldn’t have been entitled to compensation had he gone elsewhere. The three-year veteran has connected on 84.3 percent of field goal attempts, including 88.6 percent last season (good for fifth in the league).
  • Lions offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas has signed his RFA tender, tweets Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The Lions assigned Lucas an original-rounder tender last month, so they wouldn’t have gotten a pick had the 2014 undrafted free agent signed elsewhere and they chose not to match. Lucas is now slated to make $1.797MM this year in Detroit, where he has started in six of 35 career appearances.
  • The Buccaneers have re-signed quarterback Ryan Griffin, cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah, tight end Cameron Brate, linebacker Adarius Glanton, and wide receivers Adam Humphries and Freddie Martino, per Scott Smith of the team’s website. As a restricted free agent, Griffin is the only one of the bunch who could have potentially gone elsewhere (the rest were exclusive rights free agents). The Bucs tendered the 2013 undrafted free agent at an original-round level last month, and he’ll now try to win the No. 2 role behind Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay’s previous second-stringer, Mike Glennon, is now the Bears’ starter.
  • RFA defensive back Marcus Burley and ERFA running back George Atkinson III are returning to the Browns, per a team announcement. Burley, undrafted in 2013, received an original-round tender. The former Seahawk is coming off his first year in Cleveland, where he appeared in 12 games and played just under 40 percent of the Browns’ special teams snaps.
  • Fullback Tommy Bohanon and receiver Larry Pinkard have signed with the Jaguars, tweets the team’s account. Bohanon is the only with NFL experience, having logged 36 appearances and 14 starts as a Jet from 2013-15.
  • Speaking of the Jets, they have re-signed linebacker Julian Stanford (via Randy Lange of the team’s site). The Jets could Stanford on Friday, but both sides knew that was only a procedural move. Last season was the first as a Jet for the 26-year-old Stanford, who appeared in nine games (two starts) and played about a quarter of their defensive snaps and a third of their special teams snaps.

Buccaneers Retain ERFA TE Cameron Brate

It was a no-brainer move, but it’s now official. The Buccaneers have tendered exclusive rights free agent Cameron Brate, as Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Cameron Brate (vertical)

Brate, 26 this summer, broke out in 2016 as he caught 57 passes for 660 yards and eight touchdowns. Because he only played a handful of games in his first NFL season (2014), he was shy of having three full accrued seasons, which would have made him a restricted free agent. Instead, he’s an ERFA, enabling the Bucs to keep him for cheap.

Next year, he’s scheduled for restricted free agency and may require a high tender to be kept. With that in mind, the Buccaneers may look to extend him now and lock him in at a favorable rate going forward. As a former undrafted rookie free agent, Brate has yet to cash in at the pro level, so he may opt for security over earning upside.

The Bucs also re-signed a handful of ERFAs on Monday.

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Buccaneers Place TE Cameron Brate On IR

Cameron Brate‘s season is over. The Buccaneers announced that the tight end is being placed on injured reserve. Cameron Brate (vertical)

Brate has been a revelation for the Buccaneers this season. When Austin Seferian-Jenkins was let go in September, Brate stepped up in a major way and become a focal point of the Bucs’ passing attack. Brate’s season will end with 57 catches for 660 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s in the top ten amongst tight ends for receptions and yards and his eight scores lead the league at the position.

With one game to go, the Bucs could technically still make the playoffs, but they’ll need seven games to fall in their favor. In addition to winning against the Panthers, the Bucs will need wins from the Cowboys, Titans, Colts, 49ers, and Lions with the Giants tying the Redskins. If the Buccaneers overcome the astronomical odds, they’ll be without their best tight end in the postseason.

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