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13 March 2018

Transcript: Mike Evans & Cameron Brate Press Conference

(Opening Statements)
General Manger Jason Licht: “I’ll speak for Coach [Koetter] here. We’re thrilled as an organization to be sitting up here with Mike and Cam after they signed their long-term extensions. To have them locked up for a long time is key to the success of this franchise going forward along with other young core players that we have. Mike and Cam come from different backgrounds. They’ve had different paths to get to where they are today but they both have the perseverance factor. Both have had trials and tribulations in their lives to get them to where they are. They’re both extremely hard workers. They’re passionate, they hold themselves accountable and they’re selfless. Those are qualities that we look for in a Buccaneer and we’re thrilled to have these two guys who embody those things. I think they’re also proof that it doesn’t matter where you’re drafted or if you’re drafted, but if you can perform, then we’ll reward you thanks to the resources that the Glazer family give us.”
Wide Receiver Mike Evans: “First I want to thank God for giving me this opportunity to use my talents to have this big stage to help give back and have a platform that not many people from where I come from get to have. So first and foremost I want to thank my Lord and Savior. Shout out to my grandmother, it’s her birthday, she just turned 65. Shout out to my grandma, we call “nanny-goat.” I hope this is a good birthday present for her. I want to thank the Glazer family. They’ve been so genuine in showing love to me from the first day I got here. I want to thank all of the coaches that I’ve had here. Coach Dirk has been amazing, one of my favorite coaches. I want to thank my teammates, I love my teammates to death. This guy right here, Cam Brate is selfless. I love him and am so happy for him. He deserves this. I just look forward to working hard and hopefully bringing a championship to Tampa Bay someday.”
Tight End Cameron Brate: “If I knew I had to do a press conference today I don’t know if I would have signed that deal. This isn’t my cup of tea right here. First of all, I want to thank the Glazers for giving me this opportunity. Jason, Coach Koetter, this is more than a dream come true for me. I just really love it here in Tampa. I love my teammates, I love my coaches, I love the organization, I love the city. I really can’t say how excited I am about this. This is really just the beginning for us. We have a lot of work to put in still. So I’m looking forward to the hard work we’re going to put in and I’m excited about the future here.”
(On his excitement at getting to stay in Tampa)
Brate: “I told my agent at the beginning of this process that the end goal was to stay here in Tampa. I really do love my teammates and my coaches here. I made that very clear and once this opportunity materialized, I definitely couldn’t say no to it. This is everything I could have wanted. I’m just super excited about 2018. Last year didn’t go the way we wanted, but we have a good group of players and this year we’re going to make some changes and hopefully win some more games.”
(On Brate’s journey from undrafted free agent to this contract)
Licht: “Some guys, it depends on timing [which is] a lot of it. With Cam, we were very fortunate to get him as a rookie tryout player for our minicamp. He was at two places before this. We took a chance on him, we had good reports on him. Our roster was filled at the time, 90 people, so we signed him as a tryout and it was after a day that we realized his size, that he was smart, worked hard and he caught the ball well. He kind of fell into our laps. Sometimes that happens. We decided to work with Cam, thought he was a good developmental guy. At one point we let him go for a week, which could have been the worst mistake I’ve ever made. But we were lucky enough to get him back the following week. Cam just worked extremely hard. He’s a different player than he was that day because now he’s one of the best tight ends in the league. But we were fortunate I guess. Last year, one of my favorite restaurants, 717, has a sea bass. I saw him in there and asked if he’d ever tried the sea bass. He said, ‘I can’t afford that.’ He can afford that now.”
(On Evans earning a second contract with the Buccaneers)
Evans: “It’s just a testament to my hard work. They showed me respect. As soon as I got here I worked hard. I’ve had some great teammates, I’ve been in an awesome position. It was hard for me to fail because I had so many great people around me. It’s how I am. I worked hard and it happened. I wasn’t thinking about a big contract or anything like that honestly. It happened and don’t get me wrong, I do love money- everybody does- but money doesn’t define me at all. I’m happy I got a big deal and set the bar high for a lot of guys coming up. But ultimately I just want to win games.”
(On the importance of keeping quality players)
Head Coach Dirk Koetter: “Jason and I both believe that that’s how you build a successful franchise, by, in Mike’s case, you draft them and in Cam’s case, you develop them or they develop themselves. I want to reiterate that these guys are both great examples, they’re both being way too humble today. Mike mentioned that he couldn’t fail. Plenty of first-round draft picks fail, just look around the league. Mike has done it by how hard he’s worked and how well he’s played. Jason and Cam both told Cam’s story at the other end of the spectrum. He’s a guy that comes up undrafted. To grow your own guys, whether they were drafted in the first round or developed, to get them to their second contracts, that’s the best way to grow a franchise. These guys have both mentioned that we do have a really good young core and we are really looking forward to how the future looks with these guys.”
(On evaluating Evans before the 2014 NFL Draft and the team’s expectations for him)
Licht: “We thought very highly of Mike. I remember the moment we decided that he was going to be the guy. Like Coach said, it’s about 50 percent bust rate with first rounders. For Mike to not only live up to the expectations but, you could say he exceeded him because he is a premier, elite player, is a testament to him. Cam in his own right, came up from being undrafted and being a tryout player. But [Mike] living up to the expectations of being a top-10 pick, seventh overall, that’s tough to do. It’s a testament to his hard work.”
(On Evans’ contract negotiations)
Licht: “The key to keeping him here is that both of us wanted this. Mike has never talked about his contract with me. I’ve mentioned it to him a few times throughout the year, ‘don’t worry Mike, we’re going to take care of you, everything is going to be good,’ and he really didn’t want to have anything to do with the conversation. He said that he was just worried about winning. We knew that Mike wanted to be here, but he had options. He could have played it out but he wanted to be here. When you see Mike perform the way he does, it’s a no brainier on our behalf. We’re just fortunate to have him and Cam locked up here.”
(On quarterback Jameis Winston’s potential for a great 2018 season)
Evans: “He’s a young quarterback. He’s hungry. He has all of the talent in the world and he’s going to keep getting better. We just have to clean up some things as a team, cut down on penalties and things like that. I think then we’ll be fine. We’re a young team, we’re on the come up. I think this is our year, honestly. We’re making some good moves already so I’m just looking forward to the season. I think Jameis is going to improve. He battled some injuries and he fought through them. That’s the type of player he is and that’s the type of person he is.”
(On the newly formed Mike Evans Family Foundation and how this contract will help it grow)
Evans: “It’s hard to put into words. With my actions, you’ll see it. I just started my foundation and I plan on helping a lot of people. I heard Denzel Washington say one time that it’s not about the amount of money you have, it’s about what you do with the money you have. I just plan on helping a lot of people. I’m fortunate, like I said earlier, and grateful for this opportunity. I’m going to keep working. I never take it for granted. I just want to help a lot of people and have fun along the way.”
(On Brate shaking Jay Cutler’s hand following Brate’s first game as a Buccaneer)
Brate: “I actually never shook his hand, I was too nervous. Growing up a Bears fan, that was my guy. It’s been a wild ride, but I’m super excited about where we are as a team and where we can go in the future.”
(On Brate’s roommates, Buccaneers wide receiver Adam Humphries and quarterback Ryan Griffin)
Brate: “[Laughs] Ryan [Griffin] sent me a Venmo request yesterday for quite a bit of money, I’m not sure for what. I think the Three Amigos will continue to live together. I’m not sure if we’ll stay in the same apartment or move somewhere else, but I like having those guys by my side.”
(On the Buccaneers’ philosophy when building a team)
Licht: “Like Coach [Koetter] said, our philosophy is that the stars on our team, the majority of them are going to come through the draft and then we’re going to lock them up. [We want] the ones that embody the qualities that I outlined before and these guys have them and we have several more. To get these guys done, including Brent Grimes, we’re very excited about him, and Adarius Glanton, it’s very important to go into the off-season and free agency just knowing that you have your guys on your team and then you can make moves from there. Which we will and we’ll supplement the roster from there. Right now it’s about these guys.”
(On signing cornerback Brent Grimes before he got to free agency)
Koetter: “I’m sure he did do some testing of the waters. Jason could probably speak more to that than me. But, we just know Brent is the right kind of guy. Brent is a really good football player, he’s probably under-rated based on how good he really is. When you look at the corner movement around the league in the past couple of weeks, we’ve studied all of these guys and you can put Grimes up against any of them. I think the main thing for Brent was deciding if he was going to play. Jason and I were confident that if he was going to play, that we’d have a great shot at getting him back. He likes it here and we like him.”

(On Evans’ offseason plans)
Evans: “It’s the same plans as always, just to work my tail off and try to be the best player that I can be. I think I can be one of the best in the game, hopefully one of the best of all time. I just have to keep working. God-willing I stay healthy and that’s all. I’m just trying to work.”
(On where each player was when they found out about the deal)
Brate: “I was on my bed watching ‘Tom vs. Time’ when my agent called. That’s one of the guys I look up to, so that was a good phone call, for sure.
Evans: “I was in my man cave/pool house in my new home that I just bought. I was playing Fortnite – it’s a video game.”

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