The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to win their third-straight game in 2020 after defeating the Los Angeles Chargers, 38-31, at Raymond James Stadium, but they lost a key piece to the offense in the process. Head coach Bruce Arians noted postgame that the team feared tight end O.J. Howard -- who left the game in the second half due to injury -- ruptured his Achilles and could be done for the year, Bucs writer Scott Smith reported. The worst-case scenario has now been confirmed via MRI, and Howard will not take the field again until 2021, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Howard has been atop the tight end masthead to begin the year and enjoyed a productive day as a pass-catcher on Sunday, hauling in three passes from Tom Brady for 50 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown. Coming into this game, he had eight receptions on the year for 96 yards and another score. The 25-year-old is in the midst of his fourth season in the NFL after the Bucs selected him in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
The club did exercise the fifth-year option on his contract, which means he'll suit up again in Tampa next year.
The silver lining for the Bucs is that they are pretty deep at the position, also boasting Cameron Brate and Rob Gronkowski. While Gronkowski may have a history with Brady thanks to their days in New England, Brate may be the one elevated to starting status after catching a touchdown on Sunday. If they're so inclined, they could take a look at free agency for additional help, and that could spark an interest in a prominent name like Delanie Walker. That's something they'll assess going forward, having now confirmed the brutal news on Howard.