Latest Buccaneers tight end outlook
By: Jake Rajala
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will not have the greek god-like TE Robert Gronkowski, but they still have talent left at the TE spot. The starting TE is none other than the veteran Cameron Brate. He hasn’t been very involved in recent memory, but he did have a modest 660 receiving yds and 8 touchdowns in 2016. He also notched six touchdowns in 2017 and six touchdowns in 2018. He only unleashed four touchdowns in 2021, but he also only had 50 targets, while Gronkowski registered 89 targets. He’s certainly capable of being a go-to target and red-zone threat as the TE1 in the Bucs offense moving forward. The 31-year-old TE will be a FA in 2024.
Cade Otton (fourth-round pick in 2021) could be an x-factor in the Bucs offense moving forward. Per NFL.com, a scouting director for an NFC team stated, “I think he is the best I’ve seen so far (in 2021), at just getting himself open with his routes. That is really a big deal for me when I watch tight ends”. It’s safe to say that he is can find gold with excellent match-ups and having Tom Brady as his QB.
The Bucs have a second TE rookie in their midst in Ko Kieft – as he was a Big Ten honorable mention last season. He offers quality run-blocking ability in part to his modest pass-catching ability. He should have a unique role in the Bucs offense next season. The fourth TE is Codey McElroy – who has 30 career receiving yards at this point.
It’s clear that the Bucs have a rare combination of experience (with Brate) and youth (with Otton and Kieft) at their TE position. With that said, it could still be wise for the Bucs to bring in another veteran TE. There are a few modest free agent tight ends available, such as Jimmy Graham, Eric Ebron, and Kyle Rudolph.