You’re going to hear that Brate had a down year. Yards-wise, that may be true. Production-wise? Brate was tied with wide receiver Mike Evans for number of touchdowns on the season going into the last game of the year. Evans pulled away after a two-touchdown performance against the Saints, but Brate finished with his same total from 2017 at six. Brate is one of those guys who you can always count on to make a contested catch. At 6’5 and 245 pounds, it’s hard to contest him period. He finished the 2018 season with the fourth-most touchdowns by a tight end in the league and his 23 receiving touchdowns since 2015 ranks fourth behind only Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski and Kyle Rudolph in that span.
Brate’s usage within the offense is a little stymied by the presence of another top-tier tight end on the Bucs’ roster: O.J. Howard. Though the 2018 offense utilized two tight end sets regularly, with the plethora of other offensive weapons on the team, there just aren’t enough throws to go around. Brate took the opportunity to work on his blocking as well, becoming a true Y in the process. His rapport with quarterback Jameis Winston is well known, as well. The two to this day will stay after practice to work on their timing and it shows. Brate is often Winston’s most reliable target, especially in the red zone. All six of Brate’s touchdowns in 2018 came inside the red zone. In fact, since 2016, Brate ranks first among tight ends for red zone touchdowns with 19 of his 20 total touchdowns in that span coming inside the 20-yard line.
Off the Field:
A cause extremely close to Brate’s heart is Special Olympics. He was the first player to run over to the athletes at Special Olympics Day during training camp. He also championed the cause for the NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats initiative this year, wearing red and white cleats in support of the organization.