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SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL.

FAB 1. Brate’s Brilliance On Display In Tampa Bay

When NFL fans think of current, dominant tight ends, the names Rob Gronkowski (New England), Travis Kelce (Kansas City), Zach Ertz (Philadelphia), Hunter Henry (San Diego) quickly come to mind. The name that is notably absent is the one that’s on the minds of Tampa Bay fans.

Cameron Brate.

Although he’s only been in the NFL for less than four years, he’s become the most prolific tight end in Buccaneers history – and the rest of the league. While Bucs Ring of Honor inductee Jimmie Giles holds the touchdown reception record in Tampa Bay with 34 career scores, he only scored 13 of those TDs in his first 48 games with the Bucs.

“The coaches put me in good spots every week,” Brate said. “We have so many other good targets, especially down there in the red zone, defenses are going to have a tough time taking all of us away. Having a receiver like Mike Evans down there definitely helps us down there. If they single cover Mike, we’re going to throw it to Mike. Usually we’ll get one-on-one matchups across the rest of the field so quarterbacks look my way. Hopefully I hang on to it.”

Brate has 15 touchdowns in his first 39 games in Tampa Bay, including TDs in the last four games, which is a team-record for consecutive scores among Bucs tight ends. Giles only scored touchdowns in three consecutive games, but had seven TDs within a three-game span in 1985, including four scores in a 41-38 loss at Miami on Monday Night Football. Giles had a touchdown the next game against New England and then two at New York against the Giants.

As a former undrafted free agent out of Harvard, Brate’s sudden emergence as a red zone threat for quarterback Jameis Winston has been nothing short of brilliant.

“Cam has a great feel for creating space in tight quarters,” Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “He’s very capable of making contested catches. He has a great rapport with Jameis. No one stays after longer [after practice] than he does in developing that. Those would be the three biggest factors: ball placement, competing for it and creating space.”

Brate beat out Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a former second-round pick, for the starting job last year, and became the lone weapon at tight end after Seferian-Jenkins’ departure before Week 3. His eight touchdowns last year was tied for the most in the league among tight ends, and also tied Giles for the most touchdowns by a tight end in Tampa Bay.

During the 2016-17 seasons, Brate’s 11 touchdowns are the most among tight ends, ahead of Henry (10), Minnesota’s Kyle Rudolph (nine), Ertz (eight) and San Diego’s future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates (eight). Brate’s four touchdowns thus far in 2017 rank him seventh in the league for touchdown receptions league-wide.

Brate’s success comes as no surprise to his agent, Joe Linta.

Bucs TE Cam Brate – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Bucs TE Cam Brate – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

“It doesn’t surprise because when I scouted him at Harvard years ago I thought this could happen,” Linta said. “If it wasn’t for Jason Licht trusting me to at least look at him none of this would have happened. We owe everything to Jason on this one.

“Thank God J. trusted me enough to bring him in and give him a look because he had been to two tryouts and hadn’t been signed,” Linta said. “Without J., who knows where Cam would be right now?”

The Bucs are thrilled that he’s in Tampa Bay. What they aren’t happy with is the lack of respect he gets from the media.

“I don’t really read the media, but I’m not surprised he doesn’t get the respect he deserves,” Bucs tight end Luke Stocker said. “But I don’t think anybody on the team is surprised by what he’s doing. Going all the way back to last year, every day at practice we’re in a red zone drill and he just shows up constantly and consistently. That’s carried over to the game field. Even last year he had eight touchdowns. This year I’m not surprised at all. I expect him to continue to do good things for us.”

Tampa Bay receiver Adam Humphries, who is also Brate’s roommate, feels like this could be the year where Brate gets his just due around the league.

“I feel like he’s done enough to earn some credit and some stardom,” Humphries said. “In this locker room we think highly of him and think he is one of the best in the league. Also, we have a ton of playmakers in our offense. It’s fun when the ball is spread around like that. I think the first game was the only game he didn’t score in. Obviously he’s clutch and knows how to score.”

Linta is keeping close tabs on Brate’s numbers and how they stack up with other tight end ends. Brate will be a restricted free agent next year, and if Tampa Bay comes with the right contract numbers on a multi-year extension rather than a one-year tender, Linta and Licht could make the talented tight end a Buccaneer for quite a while. A Pro Bowl berth would only make Brate worth more.

Bucs TE Cameron Brate and QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs TE Cameron Brate and QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“That’s just how it is sometimes,” Linta said. “Sometimes the media and others don’t give him as much praise as they should. He is right up there with those Pro Bowl guys. He works hard and puts up the numbers every game. For the past three seasons he’s done it. He’s right up there with those guys. All the players in the league, we know. Everybody realizes it. Most of the media people realize it but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.”

Brate is humble to be considered as one of the league’s top tight ends.

“It’s pretty cool just to be in the same category as some of those guys,” Brate said. “Those are guys that in the offseason I’ll look at their film and try to pick up some of the things that they do. I’m just trying to get better every day. That’s always been my goal. It’s helped get me to where I’m at now. I’m just going to keep using that as my mantra and hopefully keep getting better.”

After Brate scored eight touchdowns last season, he and his agent were shocked when the Bucs made Alabama tight end O.J. Howard the team’s first-round pick in April.

“They went to great lengths right away to make it known to Cam that he was still a huge part of the offense,” Linta said. “Other than the five-second shock when it happened, it was placated pretty quickly and I don’t think it could have gone any better than it’s gone for him this year.”

Despite Howard’s draft status, it’s clear he’s the second tight end on the totem pole for now with Brate emerging as a touchdown machine for a second straight year.

“Cam does a great job preparing for the game,” Howard said. “He practices hard. He just does a great job running routes as far as selling routes to get open and seeing the coverages – that all starts with preparing. He sits down and looks at the defense all week long. When he goes out there on game day he know what is going to happen before they even do it. He just showed me how to do that. I’m definitely watching.”

Because Dirk Koetter’s offense prominently features two tight ends, there is room for both Brate and Howard in Tampa Bay. It will be interesting to see how Brate finishes the season and how soon Licht and director of football administration Mike Greenberg approach Linta about a contract extension. Linta told me that hasn’t happened just yet.

“Nothing more than just friendly talk because I’m friends with those guys,” Linta said. “It’s more friendship talk than contract negotiations. He got screwed by one game, and that didn’t allow him to be a free agent now, which kind of hurt, but rules are rules. Obviously between now and this time next year the rubber will meet the road and they’ll have to determine if he’s a guy they want for the long term.”

Bucs TE Cameron Brate - Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Bucs TE Cameron Brate – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Brate only played in five games during his rookie season, which didn’t allow him to accrue a full year’s worth of experience in the league. That does give the Bucs an advantage with Brate only being a restricted free agent in 2018. Linta said he’s fine with whatever avenue Licht wants to take.

“I wouldn’t be mad because they are allowed to do it,” Linta said about the possibility of a one-year tender. “I respect that, just like they can’t get mad at me for turning down something they want to do. Everybody plays by the rules and J. and I go back a long time and there is a lot of respect from him to me and from me to him.”

With more touchdowns, more respect will come for him, and sooner or later the rest of the league will recognize Brate’s brilliance.

“The media will take notice eventually,” Linta said. “The difference between him and the top guys is publicity, not ability. The ability is the same. You can put up any of the top guys against him and Cam’s right there. That catch against the Patriots was nothing short of Pro Bowlish.”

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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Buc 1976
Buc 1976
4 years ago

2016 draft IMO is a big BUST not only VH3 but Spence also I do admire Spence for trying to play hurt BUT he is almost always HURT. As far as Roberto well that was a BIG mistake to move up probably could have gotten him in the 4th round.
So it comes down to the CB taken in later Rd. and moving VH3 to nickel.

surferdudes
4 years ago

When will the Bucs realize Spence isn’t a 4-3 defensive end? He’s a 3-4 linebacker, not built to play D end. Want him to get more sacks? Have him stand up rush from either side with the D end taking on the tackle. Spence is not big enough to beat the massive O.T.’s in the NFL. This would help the pass rush also by bringing five on passing downs, because we sure can’t get there when we only rush four. At this point if Hargreaves starts off bad, I don’t see how giving Smith some reps can hurt. If it’s… Read more »

Horse
Horse
Reply to  surferdudes
4 years ago

Surferdudes, I agree with you especially about Spence. I’ll add another possibility of a trade since Beckwith has come on so strongly, David or Alexander. My pick would be to trade Alexander since he is the smaller one and also seems to be acceptable to injuries.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

Trade your best players……..brilliant.

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  surferdudes
4 years ago

Totally agree with SPence being a 3-4 linebacker. With all of our Linebackers, we should be swicthing to a more conventional 3-4. As for trading Brate, NO WAY. Why would you trade on of your best offensive weapons? Until Howard shows me he can do what Brate does consistently, he’s a bad substitute.

sunshineben
sunshineben
4 years ago

Scott, Besides being your fave school and loyality to the bucs which i understand …The bucs have better receivers then most teams and yet Winston is always rated behind M.M. in the qb ratings and so far this year its not even close. Is Winston getting a free pass from the local media? (I want Winston to be the man but not sure now)

dfk68
dfk68
Reply to  sunshineben
4 years ago

What stats are you looking at? MM looks behind JW despite playing 3.5 more quarters of football. JW – 99/164, 60.4%, 1259 yds, 7 TDs, 3 INTs, 91.0 QBR MM – 89/142, 62.7%, 1098 yds, 4 TDs, 4 INTs, 84.2 QBR Those stats are from nfl.com. In fairness, MM has run for 86 yds more than JW but that’s also how he injured a hamstring and missed a game. MM has yet to play a full 16 game season three years into the league. Even if he were better than JW, which he’s not, he can’t win from the training… Read more »

sunshineben
sunshineben
Reply to  dfk68
4 years ago

look at the nfl total qb rating ..M.M. rated 10th best and Winston rated 26th.

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  sunshineben
4 years ago

Sunshine, get a life, or go root for the Titans. Yeah Mariota had another stellar 1-1 int to td ratio this week, which is what he has for the season. Get off his nuts already. You’re so beyond annoying its ridiculous. And THE ONLY stat mariota is rated ahead is that stupid QBR that ESPN throws a dart at a board and figures out.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
4 years ago

VHIII should not be written off just yet. When Ryan Smith is on field as a defender, I don’t see any upgrade over VHIII. Coach Smith needs to work with VHIII and coach him up, and then VHIII has got to start delivering. It’s a technique thing, not a physical limitation. Technique can be fixed, and it takes concerted effort by both the coaches and the players to correct a technique issue. If VHIII doesn’t get better through the rest of the year, then he’s non-coachable, and then cut him, and trade or draft another CB. As for more protection… Read more »

matador
matador
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

But it was a completely unnecessary hit that knocked a superstar out of the league and a team out of contention. Who is that good for? I like a good hit as much as anyone but as players continue to get faster and stronger physics dictates that the injuries are going to happen with such regularity that fans will give up investing emotional energy into their team’s star players because of their fragility and short shelf life. That is part of what made the Dungy/Gruden Bucs special, the amount of time the nucleus of the team was together. If the… Read more »

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

Naplesfan; Why don’t they just show the film on Banks and they’ll figure it out they better not play off so much; as far as i know he isn’t in the league anymore.

calibucsfan16
calibucsfan16
4 years ago

I think its time to move VH3 back to nickel corner, and start Smith. Smith can’t be much worse than how VH3 is playing. As for the defense, I was listening to a different podcast stating that we should switch to a 3-4 defense, that would allow Spence to play OLB and get more blitzing involving Spence, David, Bond, and Glanton. Beckwith and Alexander could man the middle just fine. As for Winston, he is progressing well in my opinion. He is only 23. He needs to learn to take what the defense gives him instead of forcing downfield or… Read more »

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  calibucsfan16
4 years ago

Agree with you on Hargreaves moving to Nickle. It’s more his game. Why not try smith out there, you literally can’t play worse than Hargeraves right now. I could go out there at age 19 and play better. As for WInston he’s fine. look at his and Peyton Mannings stats the first three years, Jameis has him in nearly every category and yet we have clowns like Sunshine who can’t get over their Mariota fetishes.

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

Leonard johnson is still in the leaque and who do did he learn from? Two of the best. When you’re small play even more aggressive; that’s my advice to Hargreaves.

Pick6
Pick6
4 years ago

Conte’s daughter arrived during the 3rd quarter? that’s when the comeback ignited….maybe she’s the bucs’ good luck charm

at this point i’ll grasp onto any piece of hope….

dfk68
dfk68
4 years ago

VG3 seems to be in the wrong scheme which from a fan’s prospective is madning! Seriously, why are coaches always so f’n stubborn to insist a player plays his way no matter what the skill set is. At UF VG3 would stick like glue to WRs in the first 20 yards. He’s cat quick with great instincts. But as soon as he has to turn and run with them, not so good. Cooper and Treadwell both lit him up for massive games. So now here we are in the NFL playing VG3 in soft man with no safety help. Exactly… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast
4 years ago

We have a seriously looney tunes President who dodged the draft so many times during the Vietnam War he looked like a bobble head instead of just thinking like one.
And this is the clown who says players are disrespecting the flag and the military by doing the most honorable thing our constitution guarantees and that is to protest and express themselves peacefully..
If you ask me, these players are honoring the military by being able to protest in such a manner.
Anyone who follows this sexually abusive man should think about getting deprogramed like a Scientologist.

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  drdneast
4 years ago

Yes because everyone who doesn’t agree with you should be re-programmed. Typical liberal tolerance I see there. I don’t agree with a lot of what trump does, but the players Kneeling is affecting ratings. You can dress it anyway you like to. And the NFL is a business first and foremost.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  drdneast
4 years ago

Whoever determined taking a knee was dishonorable? We in the military past and present have taken a knee to honor our Fallen. What was dishonorable was the sitting on the bench or in your seats. I have no problem if players take a knee. Trump should take two knees and ask for forgiveness for being a coward during the Viet Nam War and having someone else go forward in his place to serve; of course none of the Trump children past and present ever served in the military. Trump should keep his mouth shut, he hasn’t earned the right to… Read more »

DrT1066
DrT1066
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

Horse, I am shocked that you of all people would bring politics up!

DrT1066
DrT1066
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

Horse, I remember when you got pissed off when Scott mentioned a player’s strong religious feelings. You said it had no business on a sports site. Well, Horse, I feel the same about politics.
How about just talking about football?

Randy H.
Randy H.
4 years ago

Agree completely with #4. I have yet to see anyone other than reporters or Packer fans say that it was a dirty hit. Had he not broken his collar bone, nobody would have said anything. And then Fox still putting it on the bottom of the screen four hours after it happened as BREAKING NEWS, give me a break (no pun intended). Did they put up Watt or Beckham’s injury as breaking news? After all, they are out for the year also.

arizonajoe
arizonajoe
4 years ago

I really hated the VHIII pick when it happened. I posted here that I thought he was too small to be a good NFL cb. However, after year 1, I thought I was mistaken. But apparently, looking at that year as a measure of what was to come was my mistake afterall. Too bad.

Buc 1976
Buc 1976
Reply to  arizonajoe
4 years ago

I also thought the same about VH3 the good receivers in the SEC lite V3 so I can’t understand how he went in the top 11 picks.
IMO maybe he makes it as a nickel.
This may turn out to be worst draft for JL.

Buc on the Move
Buc on the Move
4 years ago

For the 2016 Draft to not be a bust, Hargreaves needs to be an All-Pro level player minimum, and Spence or someone else need to make Pro Bowl or better. The Aguayo debacle is nearly unforgivable. Unless Jason Licht can hoist a Lombardi with the Bucs, he will always be remembered most for being “that guy”.

inspecto
inspecto
4 years ago

All this trade talk, I think they should trade Deshaun Jackson. We have so many weapons + only 1 ball. I think he’s lost a step and JW and him don’t seem to have any chemistry. Also JW is used to throwing to taller guys. There are teams with many injuries at wide receivers. Might get more than we gave for him.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  inspecto
4 years ago

Did you miss seeing him turn on the jets in the Patriots game? He might have “lost a step”, but he’s still two steps ahead of the guys chasing him.

matador
matador
Reply to  inspecto
4 years ago

This Is logical. We’re not going to the playoffs this year, he is a short term solution and it would give Godwin more snaps and opportunities to develop. If

RootsCrew
RootsCrew
4 years ago

The 2016 class is really starting to concern me. There was a lot of CB, DT, DE & S talent in that draft and so far the guys we’ve drafted aren’t producing at a major level yet. I like Spence. He flashed enough last year to give me hope, but two years in a row he’s injured his shoulder & I’m not sure if he will be a true hand in the dirt DE. Hargreaves is still a work in progress. Not giving up on him yet. I did a couple re-drafts on Twitter the other day and it made… Read more »

Horse
Horse
Reply to  RootsCrew
4 years ago

Best not to look in the past stay in the present.

RootsCrew
RootsCrew
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

I find it helpful to look back and see the mistakes and correct decisions made be the front office before judging them. Can’t just focus on one or the other. The 2016 draft is looking very shaky at the moment & a lot of better guys were there for use to take.

DrT1066
DrT1066
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

Really, Horse.
What happened with your anti-Trump diatribe? Back to Vietnam, really?
And yes. Thank you for your service.

XpfcWintergreen
XpfcWintergreen
4 years ago

It is too early to call Hargreaves a bust. I do think his role should be reduced for the time being. Some of our most talented take longer than others to develop in the NFL. Those who should truly be starters from day one are seldom easy to determine. Licht has done a fine job if you look a little closer at his overall personnel acquisitions in free agency, trades plus the draft. (I saw no red flags regarding character issues in anything I read about Seferian-Jenkins before he was drafted. Did someone on the staff fail to do “due… Read more »

Rut
Rut
4 years ago

I love Scott Reynolds and his Fab Fives. Also love listening to him on the podcast, and enjoy seeing his occasional appearance on the NFL Network. With that out of the way, Scott brother I’m surprised and disappointed you’re using so much space to call out another writer. I’ve defended you on here before against the hooligans over on that terrible, terrible, TERRRIBLE Joe bucs fan site. Don’t sink to their level. I know the guy said some crazy stuff, but was he really wrong? Our defense is the NUMBER ONE thing that’s holding this team back right, the only… Read more »

Horse
Horse
Reply to  Rut
4 years ago

So agree with you on this subject. I didn’t get much from this Fab five at all; Scott is very capable putting out very good articles, but this one wasn’t his greatest for sure; it really wasn’t much information that was given that wasn’t given before in other articles this past week.

SCLOBERNOCKER
SCLOBERNOCKER
4 years ago

Reread that PFT article. Mind bogging. On top of that, I took notice of this nugget: ” [Jets] would have beaten the Dolphins had Nick Folk not missed two field goals”.

Sounds vaguely familiar…

scubog
scubog
4 years ago

You kneeling at the games DrD?

surferdudes
4 years ago

If Brate is a top five T.E. who we intend to pay top dollar for, or franchise, then we spent the 19th pick in the first round on Stocker’s replacement. Evans, Winston, have contracts coming up, Marpet, Smith, as good as Brate is I don’t think we can afford him. They drafted O.J. very high, he won’t get the targets a draft choice that high demands with Brate on the team. The Bucs as we see have more needs then we all thought. Trading Brate next year could help go along way in getting those needs filled. Damn right Brate… Read more »

matador
matador
Reply to  surferdudes
4 years ago

This gets at one of the key issues with JL – he thinks you can draft BPA when you inherit a team with a decade plus of terrible drafting. No, you have to tilt your draft based on need, or the holes you leave unfilled will undermine the (potential) long term benefit of stockpiling quality players at other positions. He had the time to build from the inside out but made the classic new GM mistake of chasing the shiny penny in the form of skill players. Look at the holes we need to fill in upcoming drafts – DL,… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast
4 years ago

cgmaster, I didn’t address the financial implications of this matter, only the absurdity of anyone following this obscenity we call a President. When Kapernick first did this, I said it was the wrong person giving the right message but didn’t like the idea of him sitting on the bench during the anthem but it was his right to do so. I also said right or wrong, if this behavior spread, it would cost the NFL revenue. Since then, Kap conferred with a fellow player who was in the Special Forces and they came to an agreement that kneeling during the… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast
4 years ago

Scubog, good question. First game I went to this year was the Pats game. Grrrrrr. Didn’t kneel in support because I don’t think any of the players did, either. Probably would have if I had gone to the Giants game. I didn’t stand when they did that absurd moment of honoring the poor people who were slaughtered in Las Vegas. I believed the act of doing that was silly, meaningless and empty. 50 people are slaughtered by a lunatic with an assault rifle retrofitted to legally fire in an automatic fashion supported by 30 round clips and you think its… Read more »

DrT1066
DrT1066
4 years ago

Licht passed on Aaron Donald.
Well, might have helped the pass rush. Uh huh.
Great DTs IMO are harder to find than great receivers .