Home USA News Tumwater’s, UW’s Cade Otton ready for Buccaneers vs Seahawks

Tumwater’s, UW’s Cade Otton ready for Buccaneers vs Seahawks

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From left, Kylie Otton, Sally Otton, Cade and wife Sierra Otton, Ryan Otton and Tim Otton. A celebration of life for Sally Otton will be held at 11 a.m. on Oct. 29 at Tumwater High School.

From left, Kylie Otton, Sally Otton, Cade and wife Sierra Otton, Ryan Otton and Tim Otton. A celebration of life for Sally Otton will be held at 11 a.m. on Oct. 29 at Tumwater High School.

Courtesy to The News Tribune from the Otton family

Here, across the continent and an ocean, Cade Otton is at the top of his football life.

“Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s such a unique opportunity to come over to Europe, my first time here, and to be able to play an awesome football game against my hometown team,” he said.

“It doesn’t get any better than this.”

The 23-year-old tight end is half the world away from his Tumwater High School (class of 2017) and University of Washington, where he was until this spring. He is standing just off the pitch of the FC Bayern Munich training center’s main stadium field. He’s just finished catching more passes from Tom Brady as the emerging rookie tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It’s Friday night. Otton and the Buccaneers have just gotten off their 10 1/2-hour flight from Tampa to Munich. He apologizes to a reporter from his hometown newspaper plus a radio crew that wants to interview him from the United Kingdom’s talkSPORT Radio for his somewhat haggard appearance.

Otton enters Sunday’s first NFL regular-season game in Germany, against his hometown and still-beloved Seahawks, one weekend removed from his first professional touchdown. His catch of Brady’s pass with 9 seconds left won Tampa Bay’s previous game, over the defending Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams.

Yet these are the hardest months of Otton’s life.

Sally Otton, “the brightest person in the whole world” and his source of “endless love, encouragement and laughs” according to her second son of three children, died Sept. 20 at the family’s home in Tumwater after fighting Parkinson’s disease. It was two days after Otton caught his first NFL pass, from Brady in a Bucs game against the New Orleans Saints.

Sally Otton was 50 years old.

“Yeah, it’s been really hard,” Cade said Friday night.

“The last time I saw here was in July. I got to hug her. And say goodbye.”

Five days after his mom passed away, Cade missed the Buccaneers’ home game against Green Bay. He was home in Tumwater with his wife Sierra grieving with his dad Tim, sister Kylie and brother Ryan. Ryan is a freshman tight end for UW.

The former Sierra Snyder is Cade’s Tumwater High School classmate and sweetheart. She scored more than 1,000 points for the Thunderbirds’ basketball team through 2017, then played at Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho. They met when they were 12, at an eighth-grade basketball game.

“She’s just been my rock through this,” Otton said.

Somehow, Cade has pressed on.

And upward.

Otton caught two huge passes from Brady in the final minute of a taut game against the Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams, in Tampa. With his team trailing, Otton’s diving reception for 28 yards with 44 seconds remaining was one of Brady’s only downfield completions in the game. Otton’s second catch was the 1-yard touchdown with 9 seconds left that sent the Bucs past the Rams 16-13.

It put Tampa Bay (4-5) into first place in the NFC South entering Sunday’s Germany showcase against the NFC West-leading Seahawks (6-3).

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Tampa Bay tight end Cade Otton (88) from Tumwater scores on a 1-yard pass from Tom Brady while being defended by Los Angeles Rams cornerback Derion Kendrick (6) and Nick Scott (33) during the second half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

“We needed it,” Brady said. “We got it.”

Otton dedicated the game and the ball from his first NFL touchdown to Mom.

The first words Otton spoke publicly after the Bucs’ win? About Mom.

“Obviously I miss my mom, and I think about her right away,” Otton told reporters in the Tampa Bay locker room after his winning catch.

“I know she’d be so proud of me. Just so happy to do this — and that she got to watch me do it (from above).”

Five days later, half a world away in Munich standing in the headquarters of one of the world’s top soccer programs, Otton was thinking again of his mother — and of all who are helping him through.

“I’ve leaned on my faith and my family. My wife, dad, brother and sister, my team, they’ve been there for me,” he said. “I’m just so thankful for all the support.

“I know she’d want me to be here, doing what I love.”

The Otton family will forever be grateful to coach Todd Bowles and the Buccaneers. They allowed Cade to leave the team he’d just joined, as his first training camp with them was beginning, to be home in Olympia so he could say goodbye to his mom before she died.

After she passed away, Bowles and the team excused Otton for a week amid his first NFL games.

The Buccaneers flew Cade and his wife from Tampa to Olympia to be home in Tumwater with his family.

A Seahawk turned Buccaneer

To this day, this game day against Seattle, Otton’s favorite player is a legendary Seahawk.

“Kam Chancellor is my favorite player of all time,” Otton said Friday, while still in his Buccaneers practice gear.

Otton attended Seahawks games beginning soon after his favorite team moved into its new stadium next to the demolished Kingdome in SoDo Seattle in 2002. He was young then, just entering grade school.

As he got older he was immersed in sports. Tumwater sports. His dad Tim coached football in Tumwater. His grandfather is legendary T-Birds coach Sid Otton. The Washington state high school football record holder with 394 coaching victories won five state championships while coaching 43 of his 49 high-school seasons at Tumwater High. He coached Cade. So did Tim.

Cade Otton
Tony Overman toverman@theolympian.com

His mother dying at an age she should be reveling in his children, and soon their children — plus playing for an exacting, demanding legend as his quarterback. Trying to fit in as the new guy across the nation in a new football world.

This has not been an easy 23rd year of life for Otton.

He has 23 receptions on 32 targets through eight games. An injury to veteran Cameron Brate has vaulted Otton’s status with Brady and the Bucs.

Otton’s playing time has increased from less than half the offensive snaps in each of Tampa Bay’s first two games to 94% in his six-catch game against Atlanta last month, 91% against Baltimore two games ago and 85% while making the winning catch last weekend.

“Cade is huge. Cade has been huge for us the last couple weeks,” Bowles told reporters in Tampa following the win over the Rams. “Just blocking, making catches, making timely catches, the game not being too big for him. …

“He’s developing into a good pro early in his career.”

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Uw tight end Cade Otton fends off a Bruin during an NCAA college football game between Washington and UCLA Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Seattle. Drew Perine dperine@thenewstribune.com

Sunday (6:30 a.m., channel 7 locally), the Seahawks are likely to press cornerbacks Tariq Woolen and Michael Jackson onto Tampa Bay’s outside receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. That’s because Brady has been throwing passes more quickly and shorter than any other NFL quarterback.

He was getting the ball out in 2.2 seconds against the Rams. His 6.8 air yards per attempt this season is his lowest since his 2006 season with the Patriots. His 9.8 yards per completion are the lowest of his 22 years as an NFL starter.

Seattle’s press coverage outside in anticipation of short routes and passes is likely to create opportunities for Otton inside the Seahawks’ defense. The rookie will be going against Seahawks rookie nickel defensive back Coby Bryant and equally play-making safety Ryan Neal at key times in Munich.

“It’s been a long process,” Otton said. “Just adjusting to NFL football. New playbook. Really good competition. And I’ve just tried to get better every, single day. It’s been awesome to learn from such great players across our position room, and on our offense and defense.

“So I’ve just been trying to relish every opportunity and make the most of it.”

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Former Tumwater standout Cade Otton hauled in the game-winning pass as time expired last year in Bellevue. The T-Birds host the Wolverines in a rematch Friday. Dean J. Koepfler Staff file

T-Birds to Tom Brady

Last weekend Otton became the 95th player to catch a touchdown pass from the 45-year-old Brady in his incomparable NFL career.

Brady was finishing his college career at Michigan and about to be a rookie with the New England Patriots the year Otton was born, in 1999.

What’s it like for the former T-Bird tight end who used to spend his fall at Tumwater District Stadium off Dennis Street Southwest in Thurston County to play with Brady, the best quarterback of all-time?

“It’s surreal,” Otton said.

“It’s so cool. It’s something that I don’t take for granted. Just want to work hard. I think at the beginning there was some ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing,’ you know, that kind of put me in circumstances.

“But just working with him, he’s a great teammate and a great worker. He demands excellence. And you want to work to do that, and I’ve had a ton of fun doing it.”

Yes, Otton has resisted the temptation to ask Brady for his autograph.

“Yeah, no, I haven’t,” he deadpanned.

Otton has learned from Brady what the legend is most renowned for, what makes him, as Pete Carroll said Friday across town in Munich, “the all-time competitor,” the best the 71-year-old Seahawks coach has ever seen.

ottonbrady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cade Otton (88) and quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrate after Mike Evans caught a touchdown pass in the second half of a NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

“Just watching the way he works at practice and prepares,” Otton said. “It’s the work ethic that I’ve seen, and also just the attention to detail it takes to win on routes, and that to be a good football player in the NFL you have to be in the right spots, like, where he is expecting us to be, because everything happens so fast. We’ve got to be there for him.”

Sunday, his wife’s parents, Rhonda and Dan Snyder, Otton’s cousin and his fiancee will be in Munich for Otton. They are attending a game that had three million ticket requests in the 67,000-seat Allianz Arena.

Just as the Buccaneers have been there for Otton when he lost his mom this fall.

“I mean, I told them what happened right away, and they were so supportive and great,” Otton said.

“I’m just so thankful for all the support that they gave me.

“They’ve been so supportive. I am so thankful for that.”

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Former Tumwater High School and University of Washington tight end Cade Otton after Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice at the training headquarters for FC Bayern Munich Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. He and the Buccaneers were in Germany to play the Seahawks Nov. 13, 2022, in Munich. Gregg Bell/The News Tribune

This story was originally published November 12, 2022 2:28 AM.

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.

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