It was a topic of discussion around the deadline last season, simmered down throughout this offseason, but now it seems to have reappeared once again… the Buccaneers are looking to trade tight end, O.J. Howard.
According to former NFL general manager and current insider for The Athletic, Mike Lombardi, the Bucs are looking to move the Alabama product for at least a second-round pick in next week’s draft. The three-year pro matched his career-high in receptions in 2019 with 34, however, after 11 touchdowns over his first two seasons, Howard managed just one in 2019.
— Full Press Buccaneers (@FPC_Buccaneers) April 16, 2020
Despite a career-high in targets last season, many felt Howard was underutilized in the Bucs offense in 2019. This sparked rumors of his availability around the trade deadline. One team that showed interest was the New England Patriots, who, at the time, had Tom Brady under center. With Brady now a Buc, it was safe to assume that both Howard and Cameron Brate would see a bump in usage given the new quarterbacks affinity for the tight end position.
This, perhaps, is motivated by the Bucs reported interest in moving up in the first round to draft one of the top offensive lineman available. A move that will almost certainly involve giving up one either their second or third-round selection. With just seven selections at this moment in the draft, the Buccaneers can’t afford to give away draft picks. Also, this would free up $1.97 million in cap space (dead money of $1.55M) giving the Bucs $18.4 million to work with.
Another more interesting move may involve another rumor that surfaced over the last week or so. Retired tight end and former teammate of Brady, Rob Gronkowski has reportedly expressed interest in returning to play with Brady in Tampa.
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For this scenario to play out, the Buccaneers would have to work out a trade with the Patriots who still hold his rights. However, the Patriots will likely be willing to listen because if Gronkowski does intend to come out of retirement, they would need to do a lot of work to fit his, roughly, $9 million under the cap. The Patriots would love to ease that potential burden and receive a draft pick and/or a younger, cheaper option in Howard. A player they have already shown interest in.