Cameron Brate

Bucs' Cameron Brate admits Tom Brady-led workouts were 'calculated risk'

Bucs' Cameron Brate admits Tom Brady-led workouts were 'calculated risk'

When Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate announced Wednesday he contracted COVID-19 earlier this offseason, many had the same thought.

Didn't Brate attend several informal workouts with former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and other Bucs teammates this summer? And did he infect anyone else during those workouts -- or get COVID-19 as a result of attending?

Brate assured reporters in a Zoom call Thursday that both scenarios weren't the case: He contracted COVID-19 from his fiancée, Brooke, who started experiencing symptoms a few months ago and led Brate to self-quarantine before he tested positive for the virus.

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"The way things worked out, I kind of was already in quarantine before I had a positive test or anything," Brate said, via ESPN.com's Jenna Laine. "I think the guys continued to work out and luckily I wasn't putting anyone at risk, which was great."

Still, the veteran tight end admitted holding group workouts amid a global pandemic probably wasn't the safest course of action -- despite the extra precautions Brate says Brady and his Bucs teammates took.

"We just tried to avoid the risk of exposure to each other as much as possible," Brate said. "We weren't huddling up, we weren't hugging each other or anything like that.

"We were just having a little catch outside so it was kind of a calculated risk, I would say, that we took in that regard. We did the best we could to try to maintain social distance and really not have too much close interactions with one another."

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Brady, Brate and a group of roughly 10 Bucs skill players began working out together in the Tampa area as early as May and continued those workouts despite the NFL Players Association urging players not to gather in groups to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Brady received some criticism for his defiance in the face of a global pandemic, but Brate came to his QB's defense by suggesting the Bucs weren't alone in getting workouts in.

"We weren't the only quarterbacks and receivers doing that across the league, although I think we were the only ones that had a helicopter above us filming it -- that was interesting for sure," Brate said.

While the Bucs had a handful of individuals test positive for COVID-19 last month, it appears these informal workouts didn't contribute to the spread of the virus, which is relieving news as the team begins training camp this week.

Cameron Brate has lofty goals for Bucs after 'surreal' Tom Brady news

Cameron Brate has lofty goals for Bucs after 'surreal' Tom Brady news

Cameron Brate wasn't expecting to have a six-time Super Bowl champion as his quarterback in 2020.

The Buccaneers tight end admitted he didn't think Tampa Bay had a shot in the Tom Brady sweepstakes -- even if the Patriots quarterback decided to leave New England in free agency.

"I was honestly pretty surprised," Brate told Sports Illustrated's Nick Selbe recently. "I figured he would stay up in New England or maybe go to L.A., but didn't really think he'd end up in Tampa."

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The Los Angeles Chargers were a top suitor for Brady, but the 42-year-old QB reportedly chose Tampa Bay in part because it was closer to his family in New York.

Needless to say, Brate is thrilled with Brady's choice. The veteran tight end restructured his contract to take a pay cut so he could stay with the Bucs and can't wait to catch passes from the GOAT.

"I'm a huge football fan, so I've watched him play for the past 20 years and he's kind of been one of the guys I've looked up to," Brate said. "To hopefully be on the receiving end of some passes from him this year is going to be pretty surreal, and I'm really looking forward to that opportunity."

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In fact, Brate has a grand vision for how he and fellow Bucs tight end O.J. Howard can work with Brady: The Harvard product recalls watching Patriots games during the early 2010s when New England's two-tight-end sets of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez tore up the league.

"Back when I was in college was when they had [Rob Gronkowski] and [Aaron] Hernandez working together as the two tight ends, I got to kind of watch that firsthand," Brate said.

"Hopefully, with (Brady) at quarterback for us, we'll get the tight ends a little more involved this year, and me and O.J. are definitely fired up to be part of it."

Brate and Howard aren't exactly Gronkowski and Hernandez 2.0, but the duo combined for 70 receptions, 770 yards and four touchdowns last year with Jameis Winston under center.

With wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans commanding attention from opposing secondaries, Brate and Howard should have plenty of space to operate for a quarterback with an affinity for tight ends.

NFL Rumors: Bucs TE Cameron Brate took pay cut to play with Tom Brady

NFL Rumors: Bucs TE Cameron Brate took pay cut to play with Tom Brady

Tom Brady already is helping his new team be more competitive in 2020.

Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate agreed to a restructed contract Sunday that allows him to remain in Tampa Bay through 2023.

According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the new deal involves Brate taking a $1.75 million pay cut for 2020, from a $6 million base salary to a $4.25 million base salary on his new deal.

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Brate can earn a full $6 million if he hits certain incentives, The Athletic's Greg Auman reports.

Still, it's a 30 percent base salary pay cut for Brate and a 40 percent reduction from his 2019 base salary of $7 million.

But such is the lure of playing with the greatest quarterback of all time. Brady helped many tight ends thrive during his 20-year tenure with the New England Patriots, notably future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski and the troubled but talented Aaron Hernandez.

Brate comes with plenty of talent: The 28-year-old Harvard product has 24 touchdown receptions over the last four seasons and logged at least 30 receptions in each of those campaigns. He'll combine with the 25-year-old O.J. Howard to form arguably Brady's best tight end duo since Hernandez and Gronkowski.

That Brate was willing to take a pay cut is a great sign for the Bucs, who were down to about $24 million in cap space after signing Brady to a two-year, $50 million deal with incentives.

If Brady's "LeBron Effect" comes to bear and free agents flock to Tampa Bay, it's possible the team could sign them at a discount as well, just as Brady's former employer got players to sign for less money and compete for championships.