The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sent shock waves through the NFL this off-season with the acquisitions of quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The addition of Gronkowski was potentially problematic for Canadian tight end Antony Auclair. The Laval product has been a solid contributor for Tampa Bay since making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2017, but playing behind one of the best tight ends in NFL history could have resulted in a diminished role.
Head coach Bruce Arians said on Thursday that the Buccaneers would run a 12 personnel base offence in 2020, per The Athletic’s Greg Auman. This means that the team will frequently have two tight ends on the field while occasionally adding a third.
This is good news for Auclair given how stacked Tampa Bay is at the tight end position.
Gronkowski is a future hall of famer who shared a well-documented history with Brady in New England. It’s safe to assume that he’ll be a focal point of the team’s offensive attack, though the 31-year-old will have to prove he can remain healthy after a year out of football.
The Bucs also have a pair of productive veterans under contract in O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. Howard was a first-round pick out of Alabama in 2017, while Brate has recorded 2,156 receiving yards and 27 touchdowns with the team since 2014.
Auclair has recorded ten receptions for 84 yards in 32 career contests, 18 of which he started. He has excelled as a blocker, which could work to his advantage. If Arians wants his offence to include two tight ends in its base personnel, it’s likely the club will carry a minimum of four on the active roster.
The six-foot-six, 256-pound target was a fourth-round selection of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2017, though he has remained under contract with the NFL since draft day. His younger brother, Adam, was recently a first-round selection of the Ottawa Redblacks.