The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are stacked with playmakers across the offense. There aren’t really any weaknesses heading into training camp except at tight end.
The move left the franchise with an instant hole at the position that’s going to be tough to fill before the season kicks off.
Veteran Cameron Brate is the lone option that the team currently has under contract who has made significant contributions at the professional level.
The Buccaneers drafted Cade Otton and Ko Kieft a few months ago but it remains to be seen if they’ll be far enough along out of the gate to earn snaps.
That leaves Tampa Bay with a decision to make. Head into the season with uncertainty at tight end or make a move to shore up a position that quarterback Tom Brady often checks down to.
The majority of the top tight ends in the league are under contract for the immediate future but one attainable option may be Dallas’ Dalton Schultz.
The 25-year-old was franchise tagged by the Cowboys earlier this offseason for $10.9 million but he skipped the final week of OTAs over his dissatisfaction with the profession of contract extension discussions.
Schultz was a member of a list that The Athletic’s Greg Auman recently compiled while searching for options to replace Gronkowski.
Auman acknowledges that this might be a tough commitment for the Buccaneers to make.
“This is the swing-for-the-fences answer to losing Gronkowski.”
“It would likely take a mid-round pick to pry Schultz away from Dallas — remember, they let receiver Amari Cooper go to the Browns for a fourth-rounder and a late-round pick swap,” Auman writes. “For the Bucs to make it work cap-wise, they’d have to sign Schultz to an extension to lower his cap number. Spotrac gave him a market value of four years, $50 million this spring, so it would be another major commitment for a cap-strapped Bucs front office.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers already have a ton of money committed to the present and future of the franchise.
That number will only continue to grow as young contributors earn extensions to their rookie contracts.
With that being said, Schultz might be worth the investment.
He’s compiled 141 catches, 1423 yards, and 12 touchdowns over the last two years.
That includes a career-high 808 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021.
It will be hard to pry him away from Dallas but it’s a phone call that Tampa Bay needs to make sooner rather than later.
If not, there’s a real risk of a significant drop-off in production from the position as a whole this fall.
Brate is getting older each year while the rookies might be too green to play important roles.
A player off of the free-agent market isn’t going to move the needle much either.