Howard was among a contingent of Buccaneers skill players to attend a workout organized by Tom Brady at Berkeley Preparatory School on Tuesday, Rick Stroud and Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times report. The talented tight end, who was the subject of trade rumors prior to the draft, joined his new quarterback in what could become a series of regularly scheduled workouts until NFL facilities are once again open to players. Brady was reportedly the catalyst for Tuesday's proceedings and had a chance to throw to all of the players who attended, with Howard joined by position mate Cameron Brate but not Rob Gronkowski. Coach Bruce Arians has yet to reveal how he plans to keep all three quality tight ends consistently involved in the upcoming season, and despite the fact the Buccaneers picked up Howard's fifth-year option in late April, there remains a possibility that the 2017 first-round pick could be dealt if the right offer is presented.
The Buccaneers informed Howard on Wednesday that his fifth-year team option will be exercised, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports. The estimated $6 million option is a steep price to pay for a player who currently sits second on the depth chart at tight end behind Rob Gronkowski, but it's worth noting that the latter's contract is set to expire after this season, while Howard carries a manageable $3.53 million cap hit for 2020. That being said, the Buccaneers are still likely to entertain trade offers for Howard, whose strong run blocking and ability to stretch the field could prove more valuable to another team while freeing up Tampa Bay to address needs elsewhere on the roster.
Howard could be a trade target for the Patriots after the team dealt Rob Gronkowski to Tampa Bay on Tuesday, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. With Gronkowski now in the mix for Tampa Bay, it seems logical that either Howard or fellow tight end Cameron Brate could be on the move. Given that Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo are the only tight-end options currently on the Patriots' roster, it's easy to see why adding Howard could be a good fit. New England heads into Thursday's draft with 12 picks, and some of them could be in play to either to draft a tight end or trade for one like Howard.
The Buccaneers had discussions in February about trading Howard to Washington in exchange for left tackle Trent Williams, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. The teams obviously were unable to reach an agreement at the time, but Tampa Bay's recent acquisition of Rob Gronkowski could lead to reduced trade demands for Howard, who can be kept under team control through 2021 via the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. The Bucs face a May 4 deadline to decide on that option, assuming the 25-year-old tight end remains on their roster. A trade with Washington would still make sense, but it would be tougher for Tampa to absorb Williams' large contract now that Gronkowski accounts for a sizable portion of the cap space that was remaining after the team signed quarterback Tom Brady. The Bucs might prefer compensation in the form of draft picks.
Howard's chances of being traded appear higher than ever after the Buccaneers' acquisition of Rob Gronkowski on Tuesday, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports. Naturally, there's also a plausible scenario where Cameron Brate is the player moved to ease the sudden glut of starting-quality tight ends on the Buccaneers roster, but Auman notes the latter previously took a $4.25 million pay cut to remain with the team in 2020. Meanwhile, Howard was already reportedly being shopped prior to Tuesday's Gronkowski acquisition, and he would likely fetch a slightly higher draft pick in a trade than Brate due to his youth, athleticism and overall upside. With the close proximity of the upcoming draft lending a sense of urgency for Tampa if it wants to immediately recoup the fourth-round pick it's just surrendered to the Patriots, a trade of Howard could well be imminent.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/13||@New Orleans Saints||8||6.12|
|4||10/04||Los Angeles Chargers||11||6.25|
|6||10/18||Green Bay Packers||14||6.78|
|7||10/26||@Las Vegas Raiders||0.00|
|8||11/03||@New York Giants||25||8.00|
|9||11/09||New Orleans Saints||8||6.12|
|11||11/24||Los Angeles Rams||20||7.25|
|12||11/29||Kansas City Chiefs||21||7.32|
|3 Year Avg||47||31||485||4||23||15.65||70|