Bucs Have An Opening For A Second-String Tight End To Take More Snaps. Who Will Take Advantage?

May 8th, 2024

Needs relief.

There is a “Help Wanted” sign on the door of the tight ends’ meeting room at One Buc Palace. The job is an internal opening.

The position? Second-string tight end. Responsibilities? Play improved tight end. Compensation? Increased playing time.

Earlier this week Bucs tight ends coach Justin Peelle wasn’t trying to start any sort of controversy. Cade Otton is the Bucs’ No. 1 tight end. Case closed.

However, the Bucs don’t want to get Otton physically fried, or worse: Hurt. Last year Otton played 98 percent of the offensive snaps. Outside of four of the five offensive linemen and Baker Mayfield, no one came remotely close to that total.

In his two Tampa Bay seasons, Otton has taken 1,867 snaps, 1,064 in 2023.

Peelle said the Bucs really want to get Otton some rest, not because they are disappointed in him, they just believe he’s playing too much. They want Otton fresh down the stretch.

But Peelle stressed to give Otton relief, another tight end must demonstrate being worthy of playing time.

“Cade has played a lot of ball in his first two years,” Peelle said. “It’s a credit to Cade for playing that much.

“You’d like to see other guys get on the field — if it is warranted, right? They’ve got to develop and they’ve got to prove they can be on the field.”

So who is that tight end? Peelle seemed to like Ko Kieft’s physicality but mentioned he thinks Keift just needs more confidence to improve his catching.

Second-year giant Payne Durham is another candidate. Peelle, while he’s impressed early on in OTAs with Durham, he has to see more from the Purdue product.

“Payne has done a nice job in the couple of weeks I’ve been here,” Peelle said. “He’s eager with it. He’s soaking it all up.”

Then there is long-shot seventh-round pick tight end Devin Culp. Peelle likes his quickness and how he fights for the ball. But let’s be real, Culp is a Hail Mary.

Peelle lauded his tight ends for their study habits, but an MIT grad would have good study habits. It’s what the guy does on the field that eventually merits playing time or a roster spot.

So the opportunity to log a bunch of gameday snaps is available for a tight end other than Otton. Which one grabs the bull by the horns?

30 Responses to “Bucs Have An Opening For A Second-String Tight End To Take More Snaps. Who Will Take Advantage?”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I would have like to have seen us pick a TE2 instead of the CB/S Smith…..but, let’s hope that Payne Durham rises to the occasion.

  2. Bucsfan Says:

    Wonder if Culp is related to Curly Culp of KC fame in the days of yore?

  3. Lt. Dan Says:

    Here’s to hoping (I know Joe) that Culp is the answer. As a seventh round pick he’s a long shot. But just maybe he didn’t have a chance to shine because of the talent he was surrounded by at Washington.

  4. Fred McNeil Says:

    Culp is interesting.

  5. StrikingWombat Says:

    A lot of top draft picks have been lost to the tight end position. A huge jump from college to the Pro’s. I like Payne, he needs to beef up, but hopefully it doesn’t slow him down too much. I think you need to be a great blocker, and then you also need great hands. You need to catch EVERY ball that comes your way, they don’t get the luxury the WRs get on missed catches. TE’s are always needed on crucial 3rd down plays it seems….

  6. Easy The Great Says:

    Payne is our future TE 1. Maybe not his year, but he’s gonna be a solid one when he gets more playing time.

  7. A Bucs Fan Says:

    Bucs made a serious upgrade on the coaching staff bringing in this guy! I can see Otton flourishing and Durham taking a big jump. I just don’t know if Payne has the speed to be a real threat though.

    Culp is an athletic freak with his size and speed matching both Evan engram and Darren Waller. But he’s a project and will likely take more than a year to develop as a 7th round pick! Hopefully he performs on special teams and/or over takes Ko Keift who has not had good performances in games the past two seasons.

  8. JimBobBuc Says:

    If Coen’s offense is like the Ram’s the TEs will go in motion for whams so it will be huge of Kieft can get on the field and also be solid in the pass game. Culp is very interesting with some speed.

  9. heyjude Says:

    Cade does have it going. Love him! Unsure about the others quite yet. Could take some time, and possibly not this season. But you never know.

  10. 904 Bucfan Says:

    Pretty obvious that at this point the Bucs need some free agent help here. Lack of quality depth is a real problem

  11. Joe Says:

    Wonder if Culp is related to Curly Culp of KC fame in the days of yore?

    Crossed Joe’s mind too. Will try to find out.

  12. BucsFan55 Says:

    Payne showed good hands. Not sure about blocking yet but he can catch for sure.

  13. BakerFan Says:

    You think with all that playing time he would have his routes memorized, like in Detroit when he and Godwin ended up 5 feet from each other causing the interception….. I find it hard to believe Godwin did not run the correct route.

  14. Bakersnumber1fan Says:

    Payne had that killer 1 handed catch last year. As the season went on, baker learned who to target. I remember him throwing to kieft earlier in the season 🤔🤔🤔🤔

  15. ThatAintRight? Says:

    Bucs have a lot of problems still. The rebuild has been started. Now we wait for results.

  16. Hodad Says:

    Durham will be the #2 TE behind Otton, and Culp will replace Ko Keift who won’t make the team. Bucs are going to run 11 personel 90% of the time. That’s why we didn’t waste a premium pick on a TE. It’s an after thought in Coen’s offense. I think we’ll only keep 3 TEs on the 53, and keep an extra receiver 7 instead of 6 on the final 53.

  17. Hodad Says:

    Oh, and look for Culp on kickoff returns. With 4.47 speed, at 250 lbs watch out! I think Bucky lines up on the other side. Pick your posion to kick to.

  18. larrd Says:

    Hodad is right. Kieft is as much a longshot to make the team and contribute as Culp. I think the Bucs will go with the speedy guy now that they know they have two good offensive tackles and Godwin back in the slot. The OC as much as said they won’t expect Culp to block yet. Maybe they’ll keep both if they’re good on special teams.

    I also saw the RB coach say its going to be fun to see White and Irving “compete” in camp. Add McMillan to the receivers and I am excited about the offense. They seem to be planning to spread the field and open things up with more speedy weapons for Rockstar Mayfield.

  19. Toad Bowels Says:

    Ko Kieft should practice taking 500 balls a day from the Jugs machine. He could also be the short yardage back. He just has to work a lot harder to be his best.

    The competition between Payne Durham and Ko Kieft for a spot will be tough.

    Durham also has to fight off Culp. If Culp picks up quickly and if Kieft works hard then Durham is the odd man out.

    Having said that Durham could well end up being the starter by mid-season, he has a lot of physical talent.

    It’s going to be an interesting preseason. Culp also has the talent to be the number 6 wide receiver and chase Tompkins off the roster.

  20. chark Says:

    We have a very capable and good tight end. Payne is much better than most of the tight end prospects this past draft. It was a really bad year for tight ends. Otton is very good and knowledgeable , some need to get over the fact that he is not gronk .

  21. chark Says:

    If culp shows promise I think we may keep 4 tight ends. Kieft and culp could be valuable with the new kick off rule as blockers.

  22. ^^mtn^^ Says:

    Would like to see what Culp can do in the slot every once in a while in 11 personnel with Otton/ Durham lined up next to OT.

    ME OT G C G OT TE Culp CG

  23. ^^mtn^^ Says:


    Thought Culp was closer to 235lbs, not 250.

    But with you as far as putting him out there on teams

  24. ^^mtn^^ Says:

    larrd Says:
    “Kieft is as much a longshot to make the team and contribute as Culp.”

    !00% agree with you on that.

    “they won’t expect Culp to block yet. ”

    That’s supposed to be one of Culp’s strengths & that’s why I’d like to see what he can do in the slot with CG as flanker in 11 personnel

  25. unbelievable Says:

    Otton had too many dropsies last year, though he did get better as the season went on.

    Durham is massive… he really needs to take the next step in his blocking and reciving.

  26. BoBojango Says:

    Payne Durham only had 5 receptions last year and two of them (Indy and Jacksonville) were highlight catches. I think his main problem is speed and blocking.

  27. Booger Says:

    I agree with “Tampabaybucfan” – I would’ve preferred that Wiley from TCU over the ‘Nickel/Safety’ & was just thinking today, that if the Bucs were in a good position going into the trade deadline, that a move there at TE for a good solid #1-1A even, could be a real nice, big-time play. But, Cohen NEVER threw to the TE’s when at Kentucky, & they had THREE pretty good ones… That was another one of his issues that drove everyone nuts.

  28. Crunchbuc76 Says:

    We went in Free Agency and the Draft knowing we desperately needed a TE. What did we do with the opportunity? Absolutely NOTHING. WTG Jason. 🙄

  29. garro Says:

    You have no idea how much I miss Gronk!
    We have a dude who is the same size but thus far has not put it all together in Durham. I do not understand TEs in the NFL at 6-5 255+ who have not learned how to block. It seems like college coaches don’t bother with it. These days with all the silly NFL practice rules they literally don’t spend time teaching basic blocking and tackling. NFLPA sometimes does these guys no favors.

    Otton looked like he was a teenager at his first dance lesson most of last year! He caused alot of problems in our run game with his piss poor efforts at blocking. Kieft tried hard but whiffed…alot.

    Go Bucs!

  30. BigBoiBuc Says:


    Why don’t you go try big boy? They have local pro days. My guess is your best days were coed flag football in a church league.