The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are reportedly shopping around tight end O.J. Howard. The former first-round pick broke out in 2018 and has the potential to be one of the best receiving tight ends in the league. However, he’s not a fit in Bruce Arians’ system and could find a new team during the NFL Draft. The Buccaneers reportedly want a second-round pick in exchange for his services, and they just might get it thanks to the underwhelming draftable talent at the position.
Best Team Fits for an O.J. Howard Trade
New England Patriots
This is the obvious fit. The New England Patriots lost Rob Gronkowski prior to the 2019 season and never found his replacement. Howard is no Gronkowski, but he’s a dramatic step up from 2019’s underwhelming trio of Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse, and Ryan Izzo. The Patriots lost Watson to retirement and have yet to sign another tight end, so the position is currently worse now than it was last year. Howard would immediately be the best option on the depth chart and the second-best receiving weapon behind Julian Edelman.
The fit makes sense, but ironing out a trade won’t be easy. The Patriots already dealt their second-round pick in exchange for Mohamed Sanu, so there’s no clear trade piece. The best option would probably be a one-for-one trade with guard Joe Thuney. Thuney is better than Howard, but Howard plays a more important position and isn’t on the books for a massive salary in 2020.
The Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis era is officially over in Washington. After losing Davis to retirement and officially parting ways with Reed, the Redskins don’t have a clear answer at tight end. Whether it’s Dwayne Haskins or Tua Tagovailoa in 2020, the quarterback won’t have a chance to succeed without a better supporting cast. Like the Patriots, the Redskins don’t have a second-round pick this year. However, they do have the 66th overall pick, which could be enough for Tampa Bay if they package it with either of their two fourth-round picks.
Tight end Ian Thomas showed plenty of potential in relief of Greg Olsen last year, but the team probably wants another option at the position. Howard isn’t as good as Olsen was in his prime, but he should represent an upgrade from Olsen in recent seasons. Combining a proven threat like Olsen with the receiving trio of Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel, and D.J. Moore should make life easy for Teddy Bridgewater. Add in Christian McCaffrey and this offense should be one of the better units in the league.
As of right now, the Indianapolis Colts basically have T.Y. Hilton and essentially nobody else. While they could certainly add somebody during the 2020 NFL Draft, they’d probably like to have a proven commodity. Philip Rivers isn’t going to be around forever and the rest of the roster is championship-caliber. Howard could seamlessly replace the departed Eric Ebron and probably be an overall upgrade to the unit. The Colts two second-round picks, so they can deal one away and still have an early-round selection.
Honorable Mention: Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins
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