Burning Out Cade Otton

October 3rd, 2023

No. 1 tight end Cade Otton

When Joe thinks of things the Bucs might do before the Halloween trade deadline to enhance the roster for a Super Bowl run, Joe thinks of tight end — immediately after running back help.

Bucs No. 1 tight end Cade Otton played 100 percent of the snaps against the Saints, and he’s played 97 percent of the snaps this season.

That kind of workload just doesn’t happen around the NFL.

For example, beastly tight end Kyle Pitts of the Falcons has only busted 90 percent of the snaps in a game twice in his career. Chiefs great Travis Kelce averaged about 91 percent of Kansas City’s snaps when he was under 30 years old and in his prime. Two-time Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson (Lions/Vikings) has played around 82 percent of snaps for his career.

Joe is glad Otton is getting so much valuable experience, but he’s likely at an unsustainable pace, especially if the Bucs want him to be fresh when he’s running routes.

The problem is what’s behind Otton on the depth chart.

The Bucs have little faith in Ko Kieft and David Wells. They’ve combined for 2 catches for -10 yards this season. (That’s not a typo.)

Rookie tight end Payne Durham is the fourth-stringer. He’s yet to play this season.

Joe realizes some fans choked when Joe referenced Super Bowl run in the opening paragraph, but as Joe has written many times, you’re either playing to win or you’re not. Joe prefers playing to win.

The roster sure would look better if the Bucs had another quality tight end option.

34 Responses to “Burning Out Cade Otton”

  1. Casual Observer Says:

    Good point. May well be addressed by Licht one of these days.

  2. A Bucs Fan Says:

    The best TE the Bucs could afford with familiarity of what Canales is trying to do on the offense would be Colby Parkinson from Seattle…

    It’ll never happen though.

  3. Boss Says:

    Otton will be one of the greats!

  4. K2 Says:

    I still like Payne Durham. Hopefully, he is developing and will see play time soon. He has more upside than the others on the roster. Durham can be a nice second to Otton over time.

  5. K2 Says:

    Durham…better be working on blocking and catching every day!

  6. sasquatch Says:

    Durham probably won’t be a contributor until next year when he’s had a full offseason to hit the weightroom and learn to block at the NFL level.

    Kieft may never be much more than he is right now. His problem is he’s mostly a blocker and when he’s on the field, he doesn’t really need to be accounted for in the passing game too much, which is an advantage to defenses.

    Wells is a JAG.

    A modest trade for an average starter would be worth looking into.

  7. Marine Buc Says:

    Otton is OK but not much more than a mediocre TE.

    We haven’t had a real threat at TE since Gronk was in Tampa and healthy…

  8. KC Buc Says:

    This fan only choked when you referred to Kyle Pitts as a beastly TE…a WR moonlighting as a TE maybe. And his production has been underwhelming to say the least. Sure the QBs haven’t been great, but that never stops the truly beastly receiving talents from eating (See ME13, Calvin Johnson & Andre Johnson)

  9. Zoocomics Says:

    I like Otton, but I think we can upgrade the position and still allow him to improve. Gesicki, Hooper and Schultz come to mind when I think of upgrade over Otton, or at the very least, they’d serve as nice compliments to him.

  10. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    Yep, depth at TE prolly why Otton stays on the field so much.

  11. godlovesbucs Says:

    Is some of that scheme? I mean, should there be a T.E. on the field every play? Some formations don’t use one.

  12. infomeplease Says:

    Bring back RG87!!!

  13. D-Rome Says:

    Joe, why do you think Ko Kieft is not getting as many snaps? I read all last year that he has much better pass catching skills than previously thought.

  14. Salary Cap Hell Says:

    Hey Joe can you imagine what we would get if we had a healthy Mike Evans to negotiate on the trade deadline might as well trade them before we lose him….

  15. Duane in Sanford Says:

    He is getting the snaps because he is playing the most comfortably in the new scheme. Perfect time to get the other guys some more work.

  16. Architek Says:

    Otten is TE2/3 not a number 1.

  17. Rod Munch Says:

    Offensive lineman play 100% of the snaps, no reason a young TE can’t do it too. Otton needs all the reps he can get, then once he’s established himself you can dial it back a little.

  18. BillyBucco Says:

    I think the question is why is a TE in on every snap?
    Ever heard of 4 and 5 wide?
    Ive been thinking all year if you truly wanna run the ball well, spread them out?
    Our O Line does a TERRIBLE job blocking down lineman. If they would improve in that ONE category it would open up a TON.
    QUIT worrying about the 2nd level and allowing Cam Jordan, a DE tackle a shovel pass while Feiler runs right by the block.
    I like 11 and 12 personnel, but NOT at the expense of NEVER running 10.

  19. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    No reason we can’t use an extra tackle on some plays…..we struggle to run so that would help…….
    Otton was only targeted 4 times so he’s primarily in there to block.

  20. DJB Says:

    I should probably rewatch a game or two and focus on Kieft. In real-time I don’t see him doing much of anything. Last year he was second only to Donnie in holding calls, and that with limited snaps. And he dropped 30% of the passes thrown to him. He sure as Hell has not improved catching the ball this season. They tried him out first game but quickly came to their senses.

  21. SlyPirate Says:

    BROCK BOWERS, TE Georgia
    I hate taking TE in the 1st but this dude is special. He’s a game changer/wrecker. He’s arguable the most talented player in the NCAA. The Bucs will need to trade up to get him … but I’m all for it.

  22. chark Says:

    i am elated with otton..a bright future..has played like a veteran. Not sure what some of you see and expect. Otton has graded out fairly well in 20 games of nfl and has few drops. Grateful we have him..career trajectory a solid heath miller type of te.

  23. Eckwood Says:

    Sign oj Howard to the practice squad ……. Talented guy with mediocre hands and blocked pretty well

  24. unbelievable Says:


    Yo your pint about Keift, it seems like because of that, it would be so easy to have him lineup inside as a blocker, and then slip out uncovered for what should be an easy and uncontested 6 – 10 yard pitch and catch.

  25. Jeffrey Becker Says:

    Maxx Williams or the usfl guy canela?

  26. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Otton is solid and is still developing but deff need some depth. Honestly i think we need depth more at LB if DW45 or LVD go down oh man that’s a huge blow. SVD is raw and is injured. Deff could use upgrade at RB. RW1 should be used in the passing game a lot. Get him in space and the dude is lethal. He makes people miss. Idk why he can’t doing being the LOS. So get a RB who can hit the hole if there’s one or make their own hole lol.

  27. orlbucfan Says:

    Otton is out there cos he can catch. Kieft is more of a blocker. BTW, what happened to Cam Brate? He retire?

  28. Ko Kiefer Says:

    I think the answer is putting less emphasis on the position and get more snaps for Palmer and Thompkins.

  29. garro Says:

    “The Bucs have little faith in Ko Kieft and David Wells. They’ve combined for 2 catches for -10 yards this season. (That’s not a typo.)”

    Joe, I’m not sure why they seem to be avoiding playing Wells. (Fumble?) Kieft is getting snaps as a blocker but can catch as has been mentioned many times on this site.

    Ideal is to not have to pull your tight end on any play in order not to telegraph through personnel what the play call is likely to be. I’m sure Canales knows this. But adding a dual threat (good blocker and catcher) tight end to a play could mean a lot of different things to a defense. 12 personnel could be a real weapon for us.

    I would think Wells qualifies as a dual threat tight end. Why are they not using him? He has impressed me when I have watched him (except for the fumble). 8 snaps for Wells Sunday. Kieft got 15. Neither was targeted I believe.

    Go Bucs!

  30. BucEmUp Says:

    It would be nice to see the rookie group like te we drafted. Played nasty is college with hands like glue. Cade needs to be I upgraded

  31. Hogg Wild Says:

    Otten is shockingly outmatched in every phase of the game when I go back and watch which does not give me high hopes for Durham to ever be a contributor. Can’t separate, too slow to run a call route tree, hands come and go and gets absolutely mulched as a blocker. On the move or in line, he isn’t just blocking poorly, he’s getting bullied out there. Going into this season with the guys we had at RB and TE was irresponsible even with zero budget.

  32. BigBuc Says:

    Can’t separate, too slow to run a call route tree, hands come and go and gets absolutely mulched as a blocker. On the move or in line, he isn’t just blocking poorly, he’s getting bullied out there.

    Is this Otton you’re describing? Don’t think Durham has played yet. Watch his college tape from Purdue. Don’t really need to “ separate” when you are 6’6 with good hands and an 84” wing span. Just thrown the ball at him. Especially when the guys covering him are 6’1 and behind him.

  33. Rob Says:

    Don’t trade away draft picks unless you can get a real bargain. Next years draft is loaded with QB, OT, RB, and Defense.

  34. Derobbins Says:

    Not to be a downer. I feel we are being fooled by the quality of teams we have beaten. I feel bucs vs eagles was not a fluke. And we are outclassed mightily in the trenches by the top 5-7 teams.

    The fact we have gotten to play some bottom feeders is an opportunity. To trade away some pieces we have shown off, and really lean into lights ability to draft linemen next year.

    We could be scrappy, or build a true contender.