The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a very busy off-season. They kept their up & coming defense intact, brought in Tom Brady, and acquired one of the best tight ends to ever suit up, Rob Gronkowski. They are in full win now mode for a run at the Lombardi trophy. All hands on deck – especially in a season of the unknown with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
It is clear that Tom Bradys good friend & Super Bowl teammate Gronk will be the TE 1, but who should emerge as the TE 2?
Why Gronk is the TE 1
In April, the Buccaneers shocked the world when they announced their trade for future hall of fame TE, Rob Gronkowski. The Bucs sent the New England Patriots a 4th round pick, in exchange for Gronk and a 7th round pick.
The Buccaneers take on Gronk’s current contract of around 10 million dollars for the upcoming season. But with two proven TE’s already on the roster, what makes Gronk the instant TE 1?
The trade exchange & the contract
The Buccaneers gave up an early day three draft pick for a TE coming out of retirement. That is a lot of faith to put in to someone with that many miles and injuries who is over the age of 30. They also take on his 10 million dollar salary for the 2020 season.
Between dishing out draft capital and committing that much money to an ageing TE in an already crowded (and talented) TE room – the Bucs look to have a clear plan to utilize Gronk. A lot. Although this is enough justification on why Gronk will assume the TE 1 role, it goes far, far beyond money and hope. He will be sure to steal some targets from the tight end room, injury permitting. That is the only risk that Gronk brings, his worrying career of injuries.
There can be an entire article alone based on the achievements & success Gronk has accomplished in the NFL. Here’s a quick overview of his success & achievements…so far.
- Three time Super Bowl Champion
- 2011 NFL receiving TD’s leader
- 2010’s NFL all-decade team member
- Five time Pro Bowl selection
- Four time All Pro selection
- 100th season all NFL Team
- 115 career games played
- 79 TDs
- 521 Receptions
- 7,861 Yards
- 1 Rush TD
- 12 Postseason TDs
With Brady in town, it’s tough to see him NOT looking to his old friend as a safety blanket and red zone weapon. It will be interesting for football fans across the globe to see how Gronk & Brady fare in Tampa. Will they be able to take over the NFC? Can they even get close to replicating their previous success?
Outlook on TE 2 & 3 roles
With Gronk locked in as the top option, who will come out on top for the battle of TE 2? The Buccaneers have two top tier backup TE’s on their roster, who are both capable of being option number one on a lot of teams, but slightly struggled with the Bruce Arians offense in 2019.
This leads Buccaneers fans to a few questions. Will they keep all three tight ends? Who will emerge behind Gronk? Let’s take a little deeper of a dive into the Buccaneers tight end room to try & find out.
Brate is a red-zone threat for any quarterback, and he should make for a perfect pair with Tom Brady. Jameis Winston and his reckless style got Brate decent production and a big payday, and when Winston left, Brate had to fork up some of that money. Brate restructured his contract to remain on the team this off-season, a classy and savvy move by the veteran player.
Over his last five seasons with the Bucs, Brate has hauled in 194 passes for 2,139 yards to go along with 27 touchdowns. That is big time production for an offensive weapon who has had to share the spotlight with many pro bowl receiving talents such as: Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Chris Godwin, DeSean Jackson, and others. He is undoubtedly a smart ball player with an Ivy League degree to show for it. Will he be able to catch fire again in 2020 with Brady at the helm?
Howard was a first round pick, 17th overall by the Buccaneers in 2017. He had a disappointing 2019 season that many expected would be a breakout year. Despite this, the Buccaneers have still decided to pick up his fifth year option for the 2021 NFL season.
Through 38 career games in 3 seasons with the Buccaneers, Howard has amassed 94 grabs for 1,456 yards & 12 TD’s. Right from the outset, it was obvious that Howard has the athleticism to play out wide or in the slot as a receiver, as he is both quick and tall with great hands. If used correctly, he can be a match up nightmare.
Which TE will come out on top?
In terms of playing time, time will tell. Howard may be seen a bit more out of the slot, while Brate may line up more as a pure TE2. On run plays, we may see all three in the game, either lining up on the line or with one as a FB.
If the edge had to be given, we would lean with Howard to generate more playing time, because of his blocking ability. However, we see Brate as having a bigger season production wise, & thus may be a more worthy stash option in fantasy just in case Gronk does go down.
However the cake is sliced, be safe to assume that Gronk is the clear cut #1 TE in Tampa. The biggest mystery of all is perhaps the target splits among the three.
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Hi All - welcome to a little bit about me. I have been a sports freak for over 24 years, a Buccaneer fanatic for over 21 years, A fantasy football legend, among a bunch of other sports nerd things. I write for Time Skew Sports. Give us a follow on twitter @TimeSkewPod