Bucs' Cameron Brate has new $41M deal, but still happy to have roommates

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate may be $41 million richer, thanks to a six-year contract extension, but he still plans on living with his teammates Adam Humphries and Ryan Griffin in their South Tampa apartment.

"Ryan sent me a Venmo request for quite a bit of money yesterday," Brate said, laughing. "I'm not exactly sure for what."

Head coach Dirk Koetter chimed in, "Adam called and said that [you] still owe him for the cable bill this month."

Brate responded, "I actually think I paid that one off today."

Humphries also tried to convince Brate to pay their rent this month.

"For sure, no. Maybe I'll take them out once, to [the restaurant] Fresh Kitchen, as long as they don't get any extras in their bowls," said Brate, who earned $690,000 last year as an exclusive rights free agent.

"[But] I think the Three Amigos will continue to live together. ... I like having those guys by my side."

The Bucs sure like having him around, too. An undrafted free agent out of Harvard, Brate signed with the Bucs as a tryout player after tryouts with the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings. He had been cut three times in 2014 and 2015, followed by a weeklong stint on the New Orleans Saints' practice squad.

"That could have been the worst mistake I’ve ever made," Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said. "But we were lucky enough to get him back the following week."

Brate went on to start four games in 2015 and caught three touchdown passes. By 2016, he'd beaten out second-round draft pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins to become a full-time starter and tied for the league lead among tight ends with eight touchdown catches. He also tied for the most touchdown catches by a tight end in a single season in Buccaneers history.

He followed that up with six touchdowns in 2017.

"Cam just worked extremely hard," Licht said. "He’s a different player than he was that day because now he’s one of the best tight ends in the league."

Much of that has to do with the extra hours Brate puts in, staying late after every practice to work on catches in the red zone and spending additional time with quarterback Jameis Winston.

"I've built that up with Jameis over the years, just by getting all those reps in," Brate said. "That's where that trust comes from."

He said that won't change.

The only difference is that now he'll actually be able to afford the Romano Crusted Chilean Sea Bass that Licht recommended last year at a popular local restaurant, 717 South.

"He said, 'I can't afford that,'" Licht recalled.

The dish is $39.

"It's pretty expensive," said Brate, who admitted he was nervous when Monday rolled around. He feared something would get in the way of him signing his new deal.

When the phone call came from agent Joe Linta, Brate was watching "Tom vs. Time," the web series chronicling Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's offseason training.

"It's better than my wildest dreams, for sure," said Brate, whose $18 million guaranteed is the second most of any tight end in the league.

"He's an exemplary person whose accomplishment going from a tryout guy to one of the top tight ends in the league is nothing short of remarkable," Linta said. "But even more remarkable than that is the kind of person he is. He's the guy everyone should want to marry their daughter."

He called his parents Phil and Patricia -- both retired school teachers -- shortly after.

"They were really nosy. Sorry, mom and dad," said Brate, acting like an embarrassed teenager. "I feel like most parents would be nosy in that situation."

Patricia said she likes "interested" better than "nosy" and called him "an amazing son."

"This is all new to us so we definitely had more questions than any 26-year-old son would want to answer," she said. "We are extremely proud of Cam. We know how hard he has worked to get to where he is today. We are his biggest fans."

He's still very much the kid from Naperville, Illinois, who two years ago was just giddy to play the Chicago Bears because he was hoping to meet Jay Cutler. The Bucs won 36-10 that day, and Brate's 84 receiving yards and a touchdown were the most of any player on either team.

"I actually never shook his hand. I was too nervous," Brate said of Cutler. "But it's been a wild ride. I'm just super excited about where we are as a team and where we can go."