Quarterback Tom Brady has found success with tight ends over the last two decades in the NFL, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently teammate Rob Gronkowski. Where does that leave O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, however? According to a new report, one of those players should expect to be dealt in the near future.
During an appearance on the GM Shuffle podcast, Michael Lombardi of The Athletic reported that he was told by a league source the -- and he wouldn't be surprised if Howard was traded within the next week.
Howard was selected by the Buccaneers with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He caught a career-high 34 receptions for 565 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games in 2018 before he was injured, but caught 34 passes for 459 receptions and just one touchdown in 14 games last year. He appeared to fall out of favor with head coach Bruce Arians, and now could be playing for a different team in 2020.
In 38 career games, Howard has caught 94 passes for 1,456 yards and 12 touchdowns. Since he is only 25 years old, there could be a decent market for the former Alabama star. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Buccaneers do not have any pending trade for Howard, but that could soon change.
Here are five teams that should look hard into making an offer for the former first-round pick:
A young quarterback's development can be fast-tracked by a talented tight end, and that's exactly what Dwayne Haskins needs entering his second season. New head coach Ron Rivera released Jordan Reed this offseason and Vernon Davis retired. Rivera was hoping he could bring in former Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, but he elected to sign with the Seattle Seahawks instead. The Redskins did sign Logan Thomas and Richard Rodgers in free agency, but Howard would clearly be an upgrade over those two. Rivera likes his tight ends, so he should explore what the Buccaneers are looking for in return.
The Bengals are expected to take former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft next week, and like we just mentioned, a tight end can help a young quarterback in a big way. Cincinnati lost Tyler Eifert to the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency, and C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample haven't exactly proven that they are major threats in the passing game. Joe Mixon is a solid running back, A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and John Ross are good receivers -- all Burrow is missing is that tight end.
The Packers took a flier on veteran Jimmy Graham a couple of seasons ago, and it didn't really pan out. In 32 games, he caught 93 passes for 1,083 yards and just five touchdowns -- which led to his release this offseason. The Packers have a young talent in Jace Sternberger and a veteran in Marcedes Lewis, but they could stand to add another tight end who can come in and make an immediate impact. Aaron Rodgers would like a tight end with potential, and that's exactly what the 6-foot-6, 251-pound Howard provides. A change of scenery could do wonders for him, and teaming up with one of the best quarterbacks in the league won't hurt either.
The Colts have found success with a two tight-end set over the past few seasons, but lost Eric Ebron to the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency. While Jack Doyle is a great piece to have, the Colts struggled mightily with injuries at the tight end and wide receiver position last season -- which is a big reason management elected to sign veteran Philip Rivers to start over Jacoby Brissett. Apart from T.Y. Hilton, the Colts' receiving corps is nothing to write home about, so they will want another young pass catcher if they actually expect Rivers to find success this season in Indy.
We have talked about how Howard could serve as a security blanket for a young quarterback several times already, and the same theory also applies to the Dolphins. Many expect Miami to take a quarterback in the first round such as Tua Tagovailoa out of Alabama or Justin Herbert out of Oregon -- and the Dolphins could stand to upgrade at the tight end position. They have Mike Gesicki, who caught 51 passes for 570 yards and five touchdowns in 2019, but Howard would be an upgrade.
Another reason the Dolphins appear to be a likely landing spot for Howard is that they have been so active in free agency. They opened their wallets for new left guard Ereck Flowers and picked up some big defensive starters in Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson and Byron Jones. They have the draft capital to work with, and they should easily be able to swing a deal for Howard should they want to.