With the NFL trade deadline less than 24 hours away, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have seemingly changed their stance on a potential trade involving O.J. Howard. Now, Tampa is open to moving the tight end, but it would need to be a "substantial offer," according to Jenna Laine of ESPN. Laine also notes that multiple teams have inquired.
This is a flip to what the Bucs were saying a few weeks ago when they reportedly hadHoward. While it still seems like they'd be perfectly fine with keeping him aboard, it appears they also wouldn't mind now if they acquired a sizable asset in return for him.
One team to keep an eye on in a potential Howard trade is the New England Patriots. reported on Sunday that the team doesn't appear to be done dealing, even after trading for former Falcons receiver Mohamed Sanu. La Canfora also mentions that Howard is one of the players that is of interest to the defending Super Bowl champions.
This marriage does make sense on couple of levels. For Tampa Bay, Howard doesn't exactly seem in tune with Bruce Arians' offense as receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have carried a large bulk of the workload in the passing game. As the Bucs are currently 2-5 and looking up at both the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers in the NFC South, it may be wise to acquire some assets in exchange for Howard to boost their core for the long-term.
As for the Patriots, the need for additional weapons on offense to pair with their historic defense is apparent. Doing so via the tight end position would be an added bonus as the team has been lacking at that spot all season in the aftermath of Rob Gronkowski's retirement this offseason.
What makes Howard so attractive and a valuable trade chip to not just the Patriots, but any team in the league is his combination of youth, immense talent and relatively cheap cost as he's still on his rookie deal. He could also be under team control through 2021 if his fifth year option is picked up.
With this in mind, Howard did miss Tampa's Week 8 matchup with the Titans due to a hamstring injury, so teams will have to monitor his status to see if that injury could have any impact on a potential deal.