The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been relatively quiet throughout the offseason. However, they have recently finalized massive, long-term contracts for tight end Cameron Brate and wide receiver Mike Evans.
The Bucs signed Brate to a six-year deal, worth $41 million. Brate, who is a former Harvard football player, has had an interesting history with the Buccaneers organization. In 2014, the Bucs signed him as an undrafted free agent. Then, he was released in 2015, and the New Orleans Saints signed him to their practice squad. A week later, Brate returned to the Buccaneers and has been with the team ever since.
Brate became the Buccaneers’ starting tight end in 2016 after taking over for Austin Seferian-Jenkins and has developed into one of the Bucs most reliable and productive players. At 6’5 and 245 lbs., Brate has 129 receptions for 1,556 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past four seasons. He has exceeded many expectations and has evolved into a key part of the Bucs’ offensive unit.
Evans, who was selected by the Bucs at seventh overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, agreed to a five-year contract extension that is worth $82.5 million. He becomes the second highest-paid wide receiver behind the Steelers’ Antonio Brown.
Evans, a former Texas A&M star, has played in 61 games and has recorded 309 receptions for 4,579 yards and 32 touchdowns. He was also a 2016 Pro-Bowl selection and holds the team’s franchise records for most receiving touchdowns in a season (12) and most consecutive 1,000 yard receiving seasons (4).
While last season’s 5-11 record is neither impressive nor satisfactory, some of the bright spots for the Buccaneers include Brate and Evans, which should make these contracts especially pleasing for Tampa fans. Brate and Evans may have taken different paths to reach the NFL, but they both have evolved into players that the Buccaneers can depend on. They are some of the most consistent playmakers and targets for quarterback Jameis Winston, and they have contributed a lot to the team’s offensive efforts on the field.
Both players, who are still in their 20s, are going to be in Tampa Bay through the 2023 season. The Buccaneers are looking to build and grow their franchise with Brate and Evans at the center. With these contracts, the Bucs are able to secure some of their most important assets before filling in other holes in the team with the free agency and upcoming draft.
While many Bucs fans were frustrated by the team’s lack of moves in the beginning of the offseason, re-signing Brate and Evans maintains an integral part of the team. Now that the free agency has officially started, it will be interesting to see who joins the squad to hopefully contribute to a brighter future for the Buccaneers.