Just two days before the draft, Tampa Bay secured the rights to tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Buccaneers also received a 2020 seventh-round draft pick. They sent the Patriots back one of their two 2020 fourth-round picks. This leaves Tampa Bay with six tight ends on the roster. (Gronkowski, OJ Howard, Cameron Brate, Tanner Hudson, Jordan Leggett, and Anthony Auclair). O.J. Howard did not seem to be a perfect fit in Bruce Arians’ offense last season, so what will they do with him now?
Option 1: Trade
Howard was on the trade block way before the signing of Gronkowski. Rather than just cut Howard, the Buccaneers are looking for at least a second-round pick for the fourth-year tight end out of Alabama. If they cannot get that, expect the Buccaneers to hold on to Howard until day two or three of the draft and see if they can use him to gain another third or fourth-rounder. Another thing they could do is send Howard and a pick to another team for a veteran offensive lineman. If Howard is traded from this team, expect it to happen between Wednesday and Saturday at the latest. It would shock me to see him in a Buccaneers uniform once the 2020 Draft concludes.
Option 2: Keep Howard, Trade Brate
It would be nearly impossible to keep all three of: Gronkowski, Howard, and Brate on the roster. Seeing as how Brate just restructured his contract to play on a more team-friendly deal, this is the less-likely option. However, out of fairness I will analyze what a tight end combo of Gronkowski and Howard would look like.
Gronkowski was part of one of the greatest tight end tandems of all time when he paired up with Aaron Hernandez. OJ Howard is an even larger tight end than Hernandez was and is faster too. The offensive game plan will most definitely be different this season with the additions of Tom Brady and Gronkowski. So, maybe Arians will involve his tight ends more in the 2020 season. In a perfect world, the Buccaneers will use Howard to the best of his abilities, which they have not seemed to be able to do since selecting him in round one of the 2017 Draft.
I believe the Buccaneers could get a better return out of OJ Howard. He will probably bring in a second or third-rounder, while Brate will probably only require a fourth or fifth. All signs seem to point to a trade of O.J. Howard, but truthfully, that looked to be transpiring well before the Gronkowski signing.