Coach Bruce Arians indicated Tuesday that Howard is "real close" to completing his recovery from an Achilles injury, Scott Smith of the Buccaneers' official site reports.
Per the report, Howard -- who suffered a ruptured Achilles last October -- isn't running on grass yet, but the 2017 first-rounder hasn't had any setbacks. With that in mind, Arians says "the sky's the limit" for Howard this coming season. Of course, with Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate also in the Buccaneers' tight end mix, steady volume figures to be an issue for Howard upon his return to game action.
Howard finished the 2020 regular season with 11 receptions (19 targets) for 146 yards and two touchdowns across four games before suffering his season-ending Achilles injury Week 4 against the Chargers.
Howard's 2020 campaign will go down in the books as a prototypical case of a substantial missed opportunity for both player and team. The fourth-year pro appeared to have instant rapport with Tom Brady and had already been targeted 19 times over 132 snaps before going down for the season. The early exit was unfortunately nothing new for the 2017 first-round pick, who's yet to play a full 16 game slate in any of his first four NFL campaigns. Howard has flashed plenty of potential at times and could well have been on his way to a career-best year in 2020; while that possibility was ultimately derailed, he'll certainly have no shortage of motivation to prove himself in his 2021 contract year, when he'll carry a cap hit of just over $6 million as per Spotrac.
Howard (Achilles) will be placed on injured reserve, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
This was expected after it was announced Sunday that Howard had suffered a ruptured Achilles. Howard had 11 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns before suffering the injury. Cameron Brate stands to pick up Howard's snaps the rest of the way.
Coach Bruce Arians said Howard suffered a ruptured Achilles during Sunday's 38-31 win against the Chargers, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports.
Howard's fourth campaign will end precisely at the quarter mark of the season, leaving him with 11 catches (on 19 targets) for 146 yards and two touchdowns. The Buccaneers will forge ahead with Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate and Tanner Hudson at tight end.
Howard has been ruled out of Sunday's contest against the Chargers due to an Achilles injury, Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Howard scored his second touchdown of the season Sunday in a three-catch, 50-yard performance. However, in the waning moments of the game, it was announced the fourth-year TE wouldn't return as a result of an Achilles concern. There's no telling whether or not it's a season-ender, but the Buccaneers nonetheless are down to Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate and Tanner Hudson at tight end.
Howard brought in three of four targets for 49 yards in the Buccaneers' 28-10 win over the Broncos on Sunday.
The highlight of the athletic tight end's day came on a 33-yard reception, but he was otherwise outshined by position-mate Rob Gronkowski, who doubled up Howard in catches on his way to a team-high figure. Through three games, Howard has put together an 8-96-1 line on 13 targets, which puts him on a pace for slightly better overall numbers than he's produced over his last pair of campaigns, when he's averaged 34.0 receptions, 511.5 yards and three touchdowns. He'll look to make bigger contributions in a Week 4 battle against the Chargers.
Howard secured one of three targets for 11 yards in the Buccaneers' 31-17 win over the Panthers on Sunday.
With Chris Godwin (concussion) sidelined Sunday, there was cautious optimism among some of the other Bucs skill-position players' fantasy managers that there would be a positive residual effect for several members of the offense. That never really materialized for any one player, including Howard, who actually saw his targets halved from his Week 1 tally. The fourth-year tight end will look to get back on track in Week 3 against the Broncos on the road, irrespective of whether Godwin is available for that contest.
Howard brought in four of six targets for 36 yards and a touchdown in the Buccaneers' 34-23 loss to the Saints on Sunday.
Howard had a slow start to his season, but he broke the ice with a nine-yard scoring grab that saw him get wide open in the left portion of the end zone early in the third quarter. The talented fourth-year tight ultimately finished third in receptions behind Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller, and he notably doubled up position mate Rob Gronkowski in targets and receptions. He'll look to build up his numbers further in a Week 2 home matchup against a beatable Panthers defense.
Howard is listed as a second starting tight alongside Rob Gronkowski in the first edition of the Buccaneers' unofficial regular-season depth chart released Monday, Scott Smith of the team's official site reports.
Howard enjoyed a very strong camp by all accounts, building a quick rapport with Tom Brady and establishing himself as a frequent target despite the latter's intimate familiarity with Gronkowski. Given the Buccaneers arguably boast the deepest tight-end room in the league, it's unsurprising they list a 12 alignment as their base offense for depth-chart purposes. While Smith notes Cameron Brate and even blocking specialist Antony Auclair could be in on the first offensive play at times this season depending on specific packages, Howard seems like a good bet to see the second-most targets, at minimum, at the position.
Howard, who made several notable catches during Sunday's padded practice, has been singled out by coach Bruce Arians for his strong performance in camp, Carmen Vitali of the Buccaneers' official site reports.
The athletic fourth-year tight end is overshadowed at his own position to an extent going into this season due to the arrival of Rob Gronkowski, but Howard has made sure to keep his name in the news with strong performances throughout camp. On Sunday, the Alabama product made his presence felt with a tough diving and contested catch, as well as with a long grab down the sideline. Vitali reports Howard has been steadily increasing his workload in practices, and Arians made it a point to note how impressive a camp the 25-year-old has put together following Sunday's practice.
Howard has demonstrated improved routes during training camp, and tight ends coach Rick Christophel notes Tom Brady has been a factor, Scott Smith of the team's official site reports.
Howard has had the underachiever label affixed to a certain degree over his first three seasons, even as injuries have also played a significant role in his somewhat underwhelming numbers. Smith's report indicates that Howard may benefit considerably from the change under center in Tampa this season, although he'll naturally have a formidable competitor for targets at the position in offseason arrival Rob Gronkowski, and to a lesser degree, fellow incumbent Cameron Brate. Christophel notes the coaches have been "having some fun" in trying to figure out how the team will maximize all the talent available in the tight end room, but the fact Howard has already caught several touchdowns from Brady in early practices is certainly encouraging for his prospects of seeing a fair share of looks, particularly in the red zone.
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.
|1||Sun 09/13||@ NO||L 23-34||4||36||9.0||15||1|
|2||Sun 09/20||vs CAR||W 31-17||1||11||11.0||11||0|
|3||Sun 09/27||@ DEN||W 28-10||3||49||16.3||33||0|
|4||Sun 10/04||vs LAC||W 38-31||3||50||16.7||28||1|
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