Calculating Value

February 15th, 2019


Given Tampa Bay’s looming salary-cap crunch, Buc fans are looking for ways to cut corners and free up some cash heading into free agency.

Calculating Value

On the surface, Cameron Brate appears to be vulnerable, coming off hip surgery and a marked decline in production. Brate is slated to earn $7 million in base salary this fall, leaving more than a few Buc supporters to wonder whether this No. 2 tight end is worth his keep.

Fair question.

But in evaluating Brate’s value, let’s not be too quick to dismiss his contributions. He’s never going to match O.J. Howard’s average of 16.6 yards per reception, which topped all NFL tight ends in 2018, but Cameron Brate is smart, durable and dependable.

Am I wrong to suggest this franchise doesn’t have enough of those guys?

Howard has missed 25 percent of Tampa Bay’s games during his first two seasons, so he has to prove he can stay healthy for the grind. Brate has missed only three games in the past four years and he showed his toughness last year by playing through a torn labrum (hip) that required surgery last month.

Brate’s production plunged without question as he caught 30 passes for only 289 yards. It’s hardly a stretch to suggest he was hampered by the injury and the quarterback shuffle between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston.

Ask Winston why he locks in on Brate in the red zone and the answer is elementary: because he’s open.

Impact Player

The Bucs scored touchdowns on 60 percent of their trips to the red zone last season, ranking in the middle of the NFL pack, but Brate continues to make a powerful impact inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

In the last three years, Brate’s 19 TD receptions in the red zone are tops among all NFL tight ends. That includes you, Mr. Kelce, and you, Mr. Gronkowski.

That’s a skill set worth keeping. So here comes Bruce Arians, looking for keepers. It’s Jason Licht’s job to keep the Bucs on sound salary-cap footing. While Licht and director of football administration Mike Greenberg worry about cap space going forward, Arians is focused on stockpiling guys he can rely on.

And the man seems to love tight ends. In 2013, the first year Arians rode into the desert, Arizona tight ends Rob Housler and Jim Dray combined for 25 starts. The 2015 Cardinals, who reached the NFC championship game, featured 12 starts apiece for tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Darren Fells.

Even in the final game Arians coached before retiring, he started Gresham and Troy Niklas in a 2-TE alignment against Seattle. Arians obviously sees the value of utilizing two tight ends, and he’s got two good ones at One Buc Place. Besides, if Antonio Brown is worth only a second-day draft pick, what do you think Brate would command in a trade?

If this season is all about helping Winston reach the next level, Brate should be part of the scene. He and Winston clicked right from the start and Brate knows how to find those tiny creases in the end zone.

Those are valuable traits as Arians begins the process of identifying his bad-ass warriors. Brate also has support from the executive suite as Licht is justifiably proud of finding a Harvard man who can play.

Right here, right now, Brate’s a keeper.

Ira Kaufman began covering the NFL as a New York Giants beat writer in 1979. He arrived on the Buccaneers beat in 1985. The corporate leash was removed from his neck when he joined in July 2016. The award-winning Ira Kaufman Podcast fires twice per week, and Ira’s columns appear thrice weekly, except when Ira is on special assignment. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter also is a popular guest on various national radio and on local TV.

36 Responses to “Calculating Value”

  1. Bruce Blahak Says:

    Can’t let guys like this go…Dump McCoy & Djax to free up money

  2. SammyRebel Says:

    I think we should take our chances and get a savvy cheap vet as a number 2, OJ can over come those injuries, we need money for more impact players

  3. Defense Rules Says:

    I know that several have commented on trading or cutting Brate, but if it’s because of his $7 mil salary then those folks are being rather shortsighted. PRODUCTIVITY for some is measured in YARDS (as in the Bucs ‘Marching Band’ amassing yardage between the 20s?). But for me, the measure of productivity is POINTS SCORED and POINTS ALLOWED. Cam Brate measures up very well against that criteria.

    Cam only got 289 yards last year like you said Ira, catching 61.2% and he scored 6 TDs (and yes, he ‘cost’ us $7 mil). DJax got 774 yards last year, catching 55.4% and he scored 4 TD receiving plus 1 TD rushing (and he ‘cost’ us $10 mil). Although they’re much different players with much different skillsets, the bottom line is this … Odds are quite good that DJax (with his 5 TDs) will be playing elsewhere next year. Now get rid of Brate & his 6 TDs goes elsewhere too. That’s 11 TDs worth of PRODUCTIVITY that we’d be giving up by getting rid of just those 2 players. Is everyone SURE that we REALLY want to let that amount of PRODUCTION go this year?

  4. pelbuc Says:

    Dump GMC, DJax, Gholston, Unrein, Allen, Kwon and Grimes in order to keep Brate, Humphries and Donovan Smith. Draft all defense and Oline. Hopefully BA and Bowles will be the ones selecting players.

  5. Jean Lafitte Says:

    I agree

  6. BucsFIRE Says:

    I do not want to give up Cam Brate.

  7. zzbuc Says:

    Very reliable player. The Brates, the Humphries, the Marpet’s,the Kwon’s,the Gpdwin’s, the Evans The JPP’S…those are the players you keep……..The Desean’s the Bakers the TJ Ward’s the grimes those are the players you let walk………

  8. EvolvingBucsfan Says:

    A quote from Coach Arians “I think we’re fine offensively. We’ll score points. I want to stress this year a lot on defense and special teams. Special teams is really where I think we’re lacking, big bodies that can run – 4-3 teams have always had that problem. When you have four linebackers on the field at a time, you have more of them on your team, so you’re a faster team.”

    Yes they need to free up some cap $$$ Like D-Jax, Allen, Gholston, Unrein, Dotson to name a few to fill the holes we need.

    He also said “I would like to build this defense back to what it was when the Bucs won the Super Bowl.”

    I suspect he is looking to make some big picks in this draft defensively just hope they get some quality OL sprinkled in there too.

  9. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    FYI…..we can dump Grimes, Kwon……..Fitz, Barber, D.Smith…….and they won’t add a penny to our cap space……they are unsigned at this point.

    As far as Brate is concerned……it’s business… the right price (3rd round)…….let him go. I doubt we’ll get that so its a moot point.

  10. StoutGospel Says:

    Taking the analysis on just its merits, it’s simply wrong. Based on the money and condition of all factors.

    First…Bruce Arians ” the man seems to love tight ends”…no he doesn’t. Based on “starts”?? The numbers actually reflect that BA used the TE position in double-sets less than half the time. And can anyone remember any TE of note (production-wise) in ARI during BA’s time there?? Gresham?? Sure. Lol.

    OJ Howard is our TE, dynamically different athletes. Any stooge can play a #2 TE and that guy might be able to block better. AT $7 MILLION DOLLARS…and a hip that may do God knows what throughout the season…we could employ Auclair or any 5th round drafted TE to block and be serviceable.

    We NEED to be going after it, with THAT $7 million dollars! Cut Brate’s $7 million, keep Auclair, spend $5 million on better RG or higher level Safety addition, THEN draft a TE in a deep class that can catch AND BLOCK (heaven forbid) say in the 5th round. Using the $$$ much more wisely.

    After phase 2 of free agency, then if Brate is still hangin out there, give him $3 million base salary, and active game roster bonuses possibly above that, with that lovely hip.

    That’s good analysis, and use of the Bucs funds, to not do status-schmo for a 5-11 team. OJ.

    Go Bucs!

  11. JimmyJack Says:

    Nope. Sorry Brate but your not good enough for me.

    You can make good plays but you choke in the clutch. Your just not my kind of guy Brate. That’s all I can tell you.

    You choke in the clutch and you better make up for it.

    You choked last year on Thursday Night in our own stadium. They win could have(could have!!!) been monumental. It literally could have changed the fate of this team and the prior HC.

    Most will blame the kicker forevermore but I will always remember what you did. I will always remember that the kicker should never have been on the field.

    In the time since you have failure in several other key moments. You have never redeemed yourself for what you did that Thursday Night. .You are talented but you are not a good player. I would not have you on my team.

    I will use your money and pay Hump. Like you Hump choked last year and fumbled the Buffalo game away. Unlike you Adam redeemed himself and proved his worth by making sure it didn’t never happen again.

  12. BucsFIRE Says:


    Odd comments. Clearly Brate was battling through injuries last year. When have you EVER known him to have a problem catching the ball? (in clutch moments or not)

  13. Not there yet Says:

    Winston doesn’t look for anyone else in the redzone and always locks his eyes on one guy. Mike Evans and Howard should be the prime targets inside the 20

  14. Bucs Guy Says:

    Good calls pelbuc. If it comes down to $, though you have to go with Brate > Humphries. Get Bobo and Watson to start returning punts. Also get rid of Anger and bring in two UFA from college to compete for the job.

  15. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Can we agree that OJ Howard is a beast?

  16. Bucs Guy Says:

    I don’t have the numbers, but it seems over the last few years Brate’s catches are for first downs or touchdowns. Humphries catches seem to end up 1-3 yards short of a first down on a 3rd down.

  17. JimmyJack Says:

    BucsFIRE…….Thursday Night vs the Patriots.

    It will go down as JAG(just another game) because we lost but I know enough about sports to know that a big win in a game like that has potential to change team attitude and culture.

    Brate dropped the easiest TD of his life in that game. He’s been very sure handed and solid since but has dropped a few and made a few mistakes………….and almost Everytime it happens it’s in a very pivatol moment.

    Sorry to tell you but Brates a choke artist. Just because somebody is a talented player don’t mean there are clutch. Sports history is littered with talented players who were chokers.

    I’m not saying Brate can’t grow and learn how to handle that pressure because he can…….but for the time being if I only got 7M and have to pick I’ll go with Hump who has proven he can handle more.

  18. Alaskan Abdominal Snowman Says:

    JimmyJack- I think you are holding a grudge a bit. I remember multiple occasions when he has been clutch too.
    Same year week 4 I think, when we played the Giants. Down by 1 in the 4th. Under 2 minutes and it’s 3rd and 1. Brate lines up out wide 1on 1 with Landon Collins. Blows by him and makes a CLUTCH 25 yard gain to set up the game winning field goal.
    Not saying Cam is the greatest or even that we should pay him 7M this season but I just though the premise of your argument was BS.

  19. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Brate is one of the best red zone TEs. Why would we want to get rid of him? Injury clearly limited him last year. Even Koetter said he was shocked Brate played at all last year.

  20. JimmyJack Says:

    Alaskan. It’s all good if you don’t agree with my opinion. I realized when I posted that it was a unpopular opinion and other would disagree.

    But how dare you call my premise BS! My premise is undenyable. It’s unnessasary to debate my premise as it is a cold hard fact, Jack. Brate did drop the easiest TD of his life in that Thursday Night game…….This is my premise and is without flaw.

    We can argue clutch all day if we wanted. Clutch is a very tricky subject. But I think we both know a moment like that Thursday Night game is way more clucthier then a moment from that Giants game……..If were gonna discuss clutch let’s at least give clutch the credit it’s deserved.

  21. Alaskan Abdominal Snowman Says:

    JimmyJack- I won’t disagree about Brate coming up short in key moments a time or two but I won’t buy the premise that he is a choke artist by any stretch because I have seen him come up big in key moments as well.

    This is your quote I was referring to:
    “You can make good plays but you choke in the clutch. Your just not my kind of guy Brate. That’s all I can tell you.“

  22. Pickgrin Says:

    Bit of a tough call with that salary level and having talented OJ Howard on the cheap for the next 2 years….

    I think when its all said and done though – you keep Brate and incorporate more two TE sets – which is a real advantage in the NFL if you have the talent and creativity to pull it off well.

  23. JimmyJack Says:

    Alaskan. You got me there. I’m sure nobody will agree with me on that quote. Also feel like Brate could easily prove me wrong on it which would be nice.

    My plan is to release or trade Brate and pay Hump to be my possession receiver. Then I draft a TE to play behind/next to OJ. I hear this draft has some killer TEs.

    If we wind up with a extra pick I’m taking a WR too. Veteran WRs are expensive.

  24. Hoops Says:

    Dude played all year with a torn labrum and still got 6 tds. He’s gotten 23 in 3 years. Give me a break. He deserves his contract.

  25. firethecannons Says:

    keep Brate and Hump–sign donovan smith cheap or dump him as he aint worth big money — he can be replaced in the draft

  26. BucsFIRE Says:

    Tampabaybucfan Says:
    “Can we agree that OJ Howard is a beast?”


    Yes, we definitely CAN. 🙂

  27. BucsFIRE Says:


    I understand your points, but honestly..
    I can’t even tell you how many games I remember seeing Jameis snapping the ball from the 5 yard line, and I am yelling “Brate! Brate!”… and sure enough, there he is… TOUCHDOWN.

    It has happened quite a bit in Brate’s young career.

  28. BucsFIRE Says:

    ^ LOL, obviously Jameis wasn’t “snapping the ball”…. that would be pretty weird.

    But you know what I meant… LOL

  29. George Says:

    It’s time for the Bucs to give signing bonuses.

    Convert Evans 2019 salary to a roster bonus that will give you 12 to 14 million in space right there.

  30. ERIC Says:

    I’m 50/50 for keeping Brate. I think he’s an above average receiving tight end with average hands that sucks at blocking. However, our offense wasn’t nearly as lethal when OJ Howard was sidelined. Can’t say that about Brate. To be practical I’d rather roll with Howard and another blocking tight end to help shore up our run game a bit more while spending that 7 mil to a lethal rb that can run and going that oj Howard stays healthy.

  31. Dapostman Says:

    Guys like Brate are a dime a dozen in this league. He’s a good player but lacks explosiveness. He never separates and most, i won’t say all, of his catches are contested and difficult. Like MeSean he’s just not good enough to warrant his current paycheck. Oh did I say he’s not a great inline blocker either?

  32. BigMacAttack Says:

    Brate is a clutch player. Keep him. There’s plenty of dead weight on the team. Intelligence is also important and there’s enough idiots on the team now. Most of the players on the team can’t even put a coherent sentence together. They spend four years in college and sound like crackheads off the street. Got Brains? This is why the Bucs are perennial losers. They’re stupid. I cringe every time they’re in front of microphone. What language is that? Instagram shorthand?

  33. Dirty Bucs Says:

    Dapostman Says:
    February 16th, 2019 at 11:57 am
    Guys like Brate are a dime a dozen in this league.

    Awesome! Show me all the other TEs we can get for pennies on the dollar, who have led the league in redzone TD’s over a 3 year period. I’ll wait.

  34. RickinFtMyers Says:

    The Bucs should keep Cameron Brate for two reasons: availability and a knack that not everyone has.

    Even though the Bucs chose to fire Dirk Koetter, and that in my opinion was the correct move, coach Koetter wasn’t all bad. Hell, few people are just plain all bad. One of the best truism Koetter ever uttered is that the best ability is availability. And, Brate, as Ira Kaufman points out, has been available when O.J. Howard has been sidelined.

    Brate’s value also doesn’t lie in stats, other than his leading the league in red zone TDs by a tight end in the last three years. Those TDs seem to have come from something that isn’t quantifiable, a knack for finding the open spots in the end zone. It’s not something every player has nor is it something a coach can develop. It’s something Brate came to the Bucs with and it’s something that will leave when Brate leaves regardless of circumstances.

    So, it’s best for the Bucs to keep Brate and his availability and his knack for finding those open spots.

  35. proudbucsfan Says:

    these Couch potato General managers are Comical. C,Brate had a torn labrum the whole season and still had 6 touchdowns. you don’t get rid of guy’s like that he is easy a top ten tightend in this league when he’s not hurt.

  36. firethecannons Says:

    Ira is right, I agree, keep Brate and keep Hump,cut Djax at last possible minute unless he can be traded.