After signing running backs Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy, wide receiver Antonio Brown, quarterback Josh Rosen, cornerback Ross Cockrell and trading for defensive tackle Steve McLendon since training camp began, the Bucs’ 2020 roster is almost assuredly set in stone for the rest of the season. But with Tuesday’s trade deadline approaching, I detailed three moves the teams could make to better fortify their depth at edge defender, and one move that could ensure a little more cap space for a crucial 2021 offseason.

1. Trade Cameron Brate For A Late Day 3 Pick

I know the Bucs don’t fit the mold of a typical seller at the trading deadline, and trading Cameron Brate seems a little strange with O.J. Howard lost for the season, but hear me out here. It’s important to note that I’m not necessarily advocating for the Bucs to trade Brate, I just think it’s something they should consider if someone made an offer.

Bucs TE Antony Auclair

Bucs TE Antony Auclair – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Brate’s snaps have diminished significantly over the past three games, and with Antonio Brown joining the fold next week, the Bucs are going to eliminate all non-blocking tight ends from their offense except Rob Gronkowski. Week 7 already showed signs of a team moving toward heavy three-wide receiver sets and a big increase in the four-wide receiver deployments, which simply doesn’t offer much of a role for Brate moving forward.

The return of Antony Auclair as the team’s number two blocking tight end and the emergence of offensive tackle Joe Haeg as a run-obvious extra blocker have the Bucs well-fortified enough in depth at a position that will become blocking-heavy in order to feature all their talented wide receivers in the passing game. Blocking has never been Brate’s strength, and his already diminished role figures to lose playing time to Auclair as the Bucs move in that direction.

The other compelling reason to trade Brate? He’s got three years left on the rest of a contract he’ll never see another year of (Brate is due $6.5 million next season, and no dead money to cut him loose). It will be tougher to trade him in the offseason when a team will need to pay him for a full year, but to a team like Buffalo or Green Bay trying to make a run in 2020? They might be willing to part with a late Day 3 pick for the sure-handed Brate, who the Bucs will be forced to cut this offseason if they can’t find a trade partner for him.

Moving Brate would also help the Bucs’ rollover cap situation for next year, an offseason during which they will need every spare penny they can get with some huge free agents to re-sign. I asked salary cap expert Ian Whetstone for his thoughts on a potential Brate trade:

“The Bucs would offload his $2.25M in remaining salary for this year, minus whatever they’d take on to replace him on the roster,” Whetstone said. “If that’s a minimum salary guy (or a late Day 3 draft pick) that’s a net $1.7-1.9M extra to roll over into next year. Plus obviously they’d be free and clear of his $6.5M due next year.”

Bucs TE Cam Brate

Bucs TE Cam Brate – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

On the flip side, keeping Brate around in case Gronkowski gets hurt might be worth it, even if Tampa Bay ends up with no compensation for him this offseason. I love the idea of stockpiling Day 3 picks because those are the selections that allow a team to be able to move up on Day 2 of the draft and get high-end players, but Brate’s popularity in the locker room and longevity with the team may be enough to keep him around in Tampa Bay despite a minimal role with a very clear end in sight.

2. Trade Late Day 3 Pick For Jets OLB Jordan Jenkins

The weakest spot on the Bucs roster is at edge defender, where they have two strong starters in Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett, but not much behind them. Anthony Nelson has been a solid run defender, but offers next-to-nothing against the pass and still has not notched his first career sack in the NFL.

Jets outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins isn’t a great pass rusher either, but it’s going to be hard to find those for what the Bucs can afford. He is a high-character, hard-nosed competitor who had 15 sacks in his last 30 games, including eight last year, heading into the 2020 season. The 6-foot-3, 259-pound Jenkins played for Todd Bowles in New York during the first three years of his career, so there would be familiarity with the system after four and a half years as a starter with the Jets.

Given how New York is offloading much of their current roster and that Jenkins is probably not likely to re-sign there, the move could make sense for both sides. The compensation could be cheap, and the lines of communication are clearly already open between the Bucs and Jets after Tampa Bay’s trade for Steve McLendon two weeks ago. The remainder of Jenkins’ contract is also extremely affordable, which helps a Bucs team with less than $5 million in cap space. Jenkins has one sack and 12 pressures this year, per Pro Football Focus.

3. Trade Late Day 3 Pick For Ravens OLB Tyus Bowser

Most would not consider the Ravens sellers at the deadline, but Tyus Bowser is slated to be a free agent this offseason, and the team’s recent addition of Yannick Ngakoue in a trade with the Vikings makes Bowser’s role almost non-existent. With Ngakoue, Matt Judon, Calais Campbell, Jaylon Ferguson, Pernell McPhee and even Jihad Ward playing ahead of Bowser, moving him is probably in Baltimore’s best interest.

Bowser should only cost the Bucs a late-round pick, and he’s the type of pass rush specialist the team can actually afford this time of year. Bowser has 17 pressures and two sacks this season per Pro Football Focus, and would be a significant upgrade over Nelson on passing downs. His presence would also allow the Bucs to kick Jason Pierre-Paul inside in pass-obvious situations, which would be perhaps the biggest positive in adding another pass rush threat on the edge before the trade deadline.

The 6-foot-3, 243-pound Bowser is also a good special teams player and a great athlete with some decent upside at just 25 years old. In three and a half seasons as a role player (just under 1,000 career snaps), Bowser has 60 tackles, 10.5 sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble return for a touchdown.

4. Sign Clay Matthews

Free agent OLB Clay Matthews

Free agent OLB Clay Matthews – Photo by: USA Today

This has nothing to do with the trade deadline, but if the Bucs’ four-man pass rush continues to struggle to get home against the worst offensive line in the NFL on Monday Night Football against the Giants, help could be on the way. Matthews is still available as a free agent, largely because he doesn’t want to play special teams. That might have mattered to the Bucs in Week 1, but if they’ve got to blitz to get pressure on Daniel Jones in Week 8, Matthews might get a call this week.

Matthews is 34 years old, but managed eight sacks and two forced fumbles last year as a part-time player for the Los Angeles Rams. He’d be a 10-15 snaps a game guy in Tampa Bay, but a solid option to step in as a starter if Jason Pierre-Paul or Shaq Barrett went down. Bruce Arians admitted this summer that the Bucs did consider signing Matthews at one point in the offseason, but noted that price was an obstacle and eventually opted to ride with Nelson, who has just two pressures and zero sacks this season.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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eaustinyoung
11 months ago

I like the idea of adding OLB depth. Pass on Clay Matthews.

Mr.Hat
11 months ago

I’d rather get nothing for Brate and keep him as insurance. If Gronk goes down we have no real pass catching TEs.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Mr.Hat
11 months ago

Agreed. His red zone upside is an asset.

PewterPose
11 months ago

Freeing up Cam’s salary could be useful. I’ll take your word on these “meh” passrushers for depth. Can’t have too many.

thewbacca
11 months ago

Every year, teams pull players out of the woodwork to fill receiver or secondary positions. Either hold Brate or trade for CB. An injury or 2 to our secondary would be devastating for championship odds.

BigSombrero
11 months ago

Kwon Alexander was traded to the Saints for Kiko Alonzo.

MIArmysoldier
11 months ago

In other trade news- The Saints just traded Kiko Alonso to the 49ers for Kwon Alexander. Quite intresting given the fact that hes never played all 16 games in any of his 4yrs and his salary is crazy high- along with the fact we play them this weekend. Great player when healthy- but hes NO Devin White.

GO BUCS!

Spitfire
11 months ago

Can may have been expendable at the start of the year but now he’s our 2nd pass catching TE, he may not be able to block but he has some of the best hands I’ve ever seen on a TE. To be honest though, if Evans Godwin Miller Brown and Johnson are all healthy we won’t need a TE to catch a pass. I would sign Clay Matthews if we can afford him without freeing up any money. To have a 3rd guy to rotate in AOC the Edge would go a long way. I just hope we stay relatively… Read more »

thewbacca
11 months ago

Kittle out 8 weeks. Trade Brate for CB K’Waun Williams. Favorable contract, experience, and secondary depth.

Spitfire
11 months ago

Kwon Alexander just got traded to the Aints.

David DeLeon
11 months ago

I may be dumb, but I don’t see why we would trade Brate for a late draft pick now, rather than wait till close to the draft. And we get to use him all season. Brate is way better that the other TE not named Gronk.

Phattitudes
11 months ago

Would Ryan Kerrigan of Washington be an option. Could their be adjusted to fit?

magoobee
11 months ago

Why not just trade Brate for Tyus Bowser? Ravens need pass catchers. Obviously, they would prefer a WR but Brate with Andrews would make a nice combo.

danielob
11 months ago

When I saw the name ‘ Clay mathews” I almost threw up. That’s all I hear from another Bucs site, Clay Mathews, Clay Mathews, Clay mathews”. Give me a break, he’s servicable at best, just tired of hearing his name.