Howard could end up seeing steady snaps alongside Rob Gronkowski in 2020 after coach Bruce Arians said last week that "12 personnel," or two tight-end sets, will be the "base offense" for Tampa Bay, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports.
After a disappointing 2019 season in Arians' first year as coach, Howard looked like he could be a trade candidate when the Bucs acquired Gronkowski in April, reuniting the latter with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. Instead, the Bucs not only elected to retain Howard, but they also exercised his $6.01 million fifth-year option for 2021, signaling that the 25-year-old is still firmly in the club's plans. He'll likely need to keep both the drops and penalties that plagued him in 2019 in check to both gain Brady's trust and ingratiate himself to Arians. If not, Howard could see his role on offense dwindle in favor of more three-receiver formations that would likely feature Chris Godwin in the slot rather than out wide.
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.
The Buccaneers have been shopping Howard to other teams ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports.
Auman is passing along a report from colleague Mike Lombardi, who broke the news on the "GM Shuffle" podcast Wednesday. Per Auman, Lombardi added that he wouldn't be surprised to see Howard moved next week, presumably at some point before or during the draft. The Alabama product had an underwhelming first year (34-459-1) in coach Bruce Arians' offense in 2019, but there's a belief he has the talent to serve as the type of ultra-athletic tight-end target new quarterback Tom Brady has enjoyed considerable success with in the past.
Howard is slated to catch passes from Tom Brady this coming season after the latter signed a two-year deal with the Buccaneers this week, Jim Trotter of NFL.com reports.
The early stages of Howard's career have been largely defined by injury and inconsistent usage in the offensive schemes of both former head coach Dirk Koetter and current boss Bruce Arians. However, if the talented fourth-year pro is ever going to break out, it could well happen in the 2020 season, as he's set for a significant upgrade at quarterback. Howard has yet to exceed 34 receptions or 565 receiving yards in any of his first three campaigns; however, given Brady's favorable history with tight ends of Howard's elite skill set and the heavy use of the play-action passing and intermediate routes the future Hall of Famer has proven so proficient in, Howard could be primed for a significant spike in production in the coming season.
General manager Jason Licht suggested the Buccaneers are likely to pick up the fifth-year option on Howard's contract, also noting that coaches are "more than excited" about what the tight end can do in his second year working under Bruce Arians, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports.
Given what transpired in 2019, it's fair to wonder if Howard and Arians share Licht's enthusiasm. The young tight end never came close to making good on his breakout hype, with Arians pointing to drops, penalties and poor blocking to explain why Howard averaged just 3.8 targets per game. The 25-year-old did at least manage 8.7 yards per target, a major drop off from 2017 and 2018 but still well above average for a tight end. Howard is sure to pick up steam as a post-hype "sleeper" in 2020 fantasy drafts, though that will partially depend on how the Bucs handle their QB situation and whether or not fellow tight end Cameron Brate is a cap casualty. In any case, the team has until May 30 to make a decision on Howard's fifth-year option.
Howard was not targeted in the Buccaneers' 28-22 overtime loss to the Falcons on Sunday, finishing the 2019 season with 34 receptions on 53 targets for 459 yards and a touchdown across 14 games.
That Howard wasn't even targeted in a game the Buccaneers played without Mike Evans (hamstring) and Chris Godwin (hamstring) is somewhat strangely fitting, considering how underwhelming his 2019 season was overall. The third-year pro looked to be turning the corner over the prior four contests, a stretch during which he amassed 16 receptions for 226 yards, or nearly half his production for the entire campaign. Howard will hope to enjoy a bigger role in 2020, but his usage during his first season in coach Bruce Arians' offense did little to dissuade from the notion that the tight end position has a low priority in Arians' scheme.
Howard caught three of seven targets for 46 yards in Saturday's 23-20 loss to the Texans.
Howard failed to step up with the team missing its top two wide receivers -- Mike Evans and Chris Godwin -- to hamstring injuries. The 2017 first-rounder has been one of this season's biggest disappointments, topping 50 yards only three times all season while scoring just one touchdown. Howard will finish his season against the Falcons in Week 17.
Howard secured four of eight targets for 46 yards in the Buccaneers' 38-17 win over the Lions on Sunday.
Howard checked in second only to Chris Godwin (hamstring) and Breshad Perriman in receptions for the afternoon, and the third-year tight end actually paced the team in targets. Howard now has 13 receptions over his last three games, as he's enjoying a steady role that's now poised to grow further if Godwin is forced to miss the Week 16 game against the Texans.
Howard secured four of five targets for 73 yards in the Buccaneers' 38-35 win over the Colts on Sunday.
Howard was second only to Chris Godwin in receiving yardage, with the tight end's tally his highest of the season. The athletic third-year pro may finally be hitting his stride in coach Bruce Arians' offense, as he's now brought in nine of 11 targets for 134 yards over the last two games combined. Howard could be in for extra volume moving forward if Mike Evans (hamstring) is out for any amount of time, which seems highly likely.
Howard secured five of six targets for 61 yards in the Buccaneers' 28-11 win over the Jaguars on Sunday.
Howard co-led the Buccaneers in receptions with another unlikely candidate in Breshad Perriman, setting a new season high in catches in the process. The third-year tight end was coming off a two-game, Week 11-12 stretch during which he'd managed just one reception (on three targets) for 10 yards, so Sunday's surge was surprising to say the least. Howard hasn't really been able to piece together consecutive above-average performances yet this season, an unfavorable trend he'll look to avoid Week 14 against the Colts.
Howard brought in one of two targets for 10 yards in the Buccaneers' 35-22 win over the Falcons on Sunday.
The final line was an all-too-familiar theme for Howard and his fantasy managers, with the third-year tight end recording his third game with one or zero catches on the campaign. Howard offered a glimmer of hope two games ago versus the Cardinals with a 4-47-1 line, but the subsequent pair of contests have essentially served to negate any momentum he may have briefly generated. Given how late it is into the season, there have to be serious doubts about coach Bruce Arians' willingness to incorporate Howard further into the offense, making him a highly speculative play against the Jaguars in Week 13.
Howard failed to haul in his only target in Sunday's 34-17 loss to the Saints, instead tipping it into the air, resulting in a New Orleans interception.
Coming off an encouraging 4-47-1 line Week 10, Howard greatly underwhelmed in the division loss and was directly responsible for the first of Jameis Winston's four interceptions. Howard appeared to have secured a short pass at the Buccaneers' 17-yard line before somehow causing it to become airborne and landing into in the waiting arms of Saints linebacker Demario Davis to set New Orleans up with excellent field position. Howard's disappointing season is seemingly a microcosm of the team's as a whole, as the athletic third-year pro came into the campaign with high expectations and yet has fallen short of delivering more often than not. Howard will look to put Sunday's forgettable performance behind him against the division-rival Falcons in Week 12.
Howard brought in four of seven targets for 47 yards and a touchdown in the Buccaneers' 30-27 win over the Cardinals on Sunday.
The high-upside but frequently underwhelming tight end enjoyed one of his better performances of the season, scoring his first touchdown of the campaign and also recording a 26-yard grab that served as his second longest of the campaign. Howard's seven targets marked a new high-water mark for him in 2019 as well, and perhaps this performance will serve as a launching pad for better production down the stretch. Howard will look to build on Sunday's effort versus the Saints in a Week 11 NFC South battle.
Howard is cleared to play in Sunday's game against the Cardinals, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports.
Howard averaged three targets and 2.2 catches over the first six weeks of the season, before missing the past two games with a hamstring injury. The workload concerns are still present, but he has a nice setup for Week 10 efficiency against a Cardinals defense that's given up a league-high 810 yards and nine touchdowns to tight ends.
Howard (hamstring) was a full participant in Wednesday's practice, Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com reports.
Howard missed Tampa Bay's last two contests due to a lingering hamstring issue, but his full workout Wednesday should clear the way for him to play Sunday against the Cardinals. The 24-year-old hasn't been a strong fantasy option this season -- he's been held without a touchdown and has logged just one game above 50 receiving yards on the year -- but matchups with Arizona have proven highly favorable for tight ends throughout 2019.
Coach Bruce Arians relayed that Howard (hamstring) should be back in action this coming Sunday against the Cardinals, Scott Smith of the Buccaneers' official site reports.
Howard's looming return comes at an opportune juncture, with fellow tight end Antony Auclair having suffered a toe injury in Week 9 action. With just 13 catches (on 18 targets) for 176 yards in six games to date, Howard has been a fantasy disappointment, but with the Bucs currently on a four-game slide, perhaps the team's coaching staff will make an effort to get the 2017 first-rounder more involved in the passing game in the weeks ahead.
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