View some of the top photos of TE Cameron Brate from the 2017 season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers almost lost Cameron Brate once; they weren't going to risk that happening again.
On Monday, the Buccaneers agreed to terms with Brate on a six-year deal. The fourth-year tight end has developed from an undrafted free agent into one of the NFL's best red zone threats and a key component in Tampa Bay's passing attack.
Brate's 14 touchdown receptions over the past two seasons rank third among all tight ends behind Jimmy Graham (16) and Kyle Rudolph (15). In 2016, Brate caught eight scoring passes to tie both the NFL lead that season among tight ends and the Buccaneers' single-season record for the position. He was Tampa Bay's second-leading pass-catcher that year with 57 grabs, and he followed with another 48 receptions last year to rank fourth on the squad.
Brate signed with the Buccaneers out of Harvard after going undrafted in 2014. He spent much of his rookie season on Tampa Bay's practice squad before getting a promotion to the active roster in late November. Though he had just one catch in the five games he played to finish that season, the Buccaneers were still very intrigued with his potential heading into 2015. As such, when he was briefly waived from the practice squad in September and quickly signed by the New Orleans Saints to their practice squad, the Buccaneers were highly motivated to get him back in the fold. They did so less than a week later by signing him off the Saints' practice squad to their own active roster.
Brate has remained on the Bucs' active roster, and at the heart of their passing game, ever since and can now continue in that role for years to come. His 23-catch season in 2015 included three touchdowns and portended of bigger things to come. They did come over the 2016-17 seasons with a combined line of 105 receptions for 1,251 yards and those aforementioned 14 touchdowns. Brate ranks 10th among all NFL tight ends in both catches and yards in that span, and last year he was rewarded with Pro Bowl alternate status.
Tampa Bay was eager to keep Brate in their offense despite using the 19th overall pick in last year's draft to select talented Alabama tight end O.J. Howard. Howard had 26 receptions for 432 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games as a rookie and is likely to see his production rise in the seasons to come. However, the Buccaneers frequently employ multiple-TE sets and believe they can stress a defense with both Howard and Brate on the field as pass-catching threats at the same time. Last year, the Buccaneers were the only team in the NFL that had two different tight ends score at least six touchdowns each.