Should the Bucs bring back Brate? Absolutely and the fact that he is a Restricted Free Agent, could make it all the easier to do so. However, will their cap space in 2018 and the ones to come let them? If they do some creative math on the front end of a deal, they without a doubt can. Will they ultimately bring him back? That remains to be seen. The front office has yet to cast any doubt, but with the looming blockbuster contract extensions of key players like Mike Evans and Jameis Winston in the future, the cap space waters can get a bit murky.
Here is how the Bucs cap space looks over the next four years to date:
As you can see the Bucs do have some room to play with, but the later cap numbers can be a little deceiving at first glance. The next few years key and complementary players contract’s sunset, and as a result, leave Tampa Bay with the cash you see above. Fairly soon the Bucs will have to decide which players to bring back, and which ones to let walk. What you don’t want is to let the wrong players walk; which can be a tricky business.
Two key players, you don’t want walking: Evans and Winston. Evans’ rookie contract runs through 2018, and the Bucs would be keen to sign him to a long-term extension now. Rather than risk the potential of Evans leaving via free agency. Winston, on the other hand, has a fifth-year option (The Bucs will without a doubt pick that up), at the end of his contract which will run him through 2019. Between both soon to be blockbuster deals, it will take a nice bite out of Tampa Bay’s cap space. With that said, if the Bucs trim under-performing players who are overpaid as a result, and smartly front load their key players extensions they will have some flexibility. It would then leave room for complementary players like Brate who have been key in the development of Winston. He has been his go-to safety blanket the past couple of seasons and between him and O.J. Howard the Bucs TE position could bring a nice 1-2 punch for years to come.
Edited By: Morgan Adele