The Harvard product was tendered a one-year contract as an exclusive rights free agent back on Feb. 28, but the Bucs apparently have an interest in making a longer-term commitment. Brate thrived as the clear-cut starting tight end once former second-round pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins was released after Week 2 last season, setting career highs in receptions (57), yards (660) and touchdowns (10) while leading the team with a 63.2 percent red-zone catch rate. Still only 25 years of age, Brate would potentially garner a fair amount of attention as a restricted free agent with another strong season, a scenario the Bucs can avoid if they're able to lock him up before next offseason.
Recovering from a torn Achilles suffered last preseason, Watson still hasn't been cleared to practice as he prepares for the second season of his two-year, $7 million contract. The Ravens want to see how the 36-year-old tight end looks once he's healthy, but it is still possible he could be released before the season to free up cap room. The team has other options at tight end, with Dennis Pitta, Crockett Gillmore (shoulder) and Maxx Williams (knee) all under contract for at least one more season. Gillmore and Williams are still on their rookie deals, while Pitta accepted a restructured contract that should keep his roster spot safe. Watson was the clear top option last preseason, but he'll likely have to compete for snaps this time around.
Witten will celebrate his 35th birthday in May as he prepares for his 15th NFL season. While it can safely be assumed the final few years of his extension don't contain any guaranteed money, the deal still suggests he'll consider playing beyond 2017. Witten is coming off a 2016 campaign in which he fell shy of 700 receiving yards for the first time since his rookie season, catching 69 of 95 targets for 673 yards and three touchdowns. His decreased production was partially a result of the Cowboys' run-heavy offense, but he should be able to handle an every-down role for at least another year or two. It's possible the offense could open up a bit in Dak Prescott's sophomore campaign.
A 2015 third-round selection, Walford didn't develop as expected in his second professional season, catching only 33 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns (on 52 targets) in 15 games. The stat line closely mimicked his rookie-year production as he continued to split work with Mychal Rivera in a passing game that was highly reliant on its wideouts. Rivera departed for Jacksonville in free agency, but the Raiders seemingly made an upgrade with the signing of Jared Cook, who likely will enter training camp as the favorite to serve as the team's No. 1 tight end. Walford could still push for the job if he regains his explosiveness and impresses during the offseason program.
Thomas wouldn't have been traded if he wasn't willing to restructure the five-year, $46 million contract he signed with the Jaguars in March of 2015. He was still dealt for a pittance -- a seventh-round pick -- but the willingness to renegotiate at least helped him land with a team that looks like an excellent fit. In addition to having a clear need at tight end, the Dolphins are coached by Adam Gase, who was Thomas' offensive coordinator with the Broncos in 2013 and 2014. The 28-year-old tight end had 24 touchdowns in 27 games between those two seasons, highlighted by a 65-788-12 receiving line in 2013 (14 games)
Rivera visited some TE-needy teams this offseason (the Jets and Colts) but ultimately settled on the Jaguars, who currently roster six other players at the position. Helping his cause for playing time, though, is his stature as an H-back, from which he hauled in 146 of 230 passes for 1,413 yards and 10 touchdowns during his four seasons with the Raiders. Depending on how the Jaguars emerge from this year's draft, Rivera's primary competitor for work at the moment is long-time Jag, Marcedes Lewis (calf).
After spending the first five seasons of his career with the Bears, Davis is on the verge of joining his sixth organization in as many years, three of which he's played for. The Browns were actually one of them, rostering the tight end during the 2013 offseason and preseason before axing him just before the start of the regular season. Since leaving Cleveland, he's been available for 45 games, starting 20, with the Seahawks, Lions, and Jets over the last four seasons, yet he's managed a measly six receptions (on 19 targets) for 50 yards and two touchdowns. In 2016, he was unable to haul in his only target before landing on IR with an elbow injury, so he's clearly reaching the end of the line as a professional.
Rivera might've had a real shot at the starting gig in New York, whereas he'd only be in the mix for No. 2 duties -- behind Jack Doyle -- if he were to sign with the Colts. A 2013 sixth-round selection, Rivera caught 38 passes as a rookie and 58 more in 2014, but he only had 32 and 18 receptions the past two seasons while ceding snaps to Clive Walford -- whose own inconsistency contributed to Oakland's recent signing of Jared Cook. The 27-year-old Walford is a decent underneath target, but his lack of speed and ideal size will make it tough for him to re-emerge on the fantasy radar, regardless of where he ultimately signs.
Williams arrives in Indianapolis after the team traded tight end Dwayne Allen earlier this offseason. With only Jack Doyle and Erik Swoope remaining at the position, Williams adds depth to the Colts' options, even though his four-year totals of six receptions for 80 yards are rather uninspiring.
A blocking specialist, Williams only has six receptions in 45 career regular-season games. He'd provide depth behind Jack Doyle for an Indianapolis team that traded Dwayne Allen to the Patriots earlier this month. It's unclear if Williams has made a full recovery from the concussion he suffered during the playoffs.