O.J. Howard’s name has been swirling around Tampa Bay an awful lot lately. However, on Wednesday, April 29th, all rumors were put to rest. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have officially picked up Howard’s fifth-year option, making him a Buccaneer through 2021.
This upcoming season, Howard will earn a cap hit of just over $3.5 million. In 2021, Howard’s fifth-year salary will be $6.2 million, a significant raise.
What This Means
Tampa Bay made attempts to trade Howard this offseason, though the front office appears just as content to keep him. This likely means that Tampa Bay is not overly-confident that Rob Gronkowski’s tender as a Buccaneer will last longer than the 2020 season. Though there’s a chance Gronkowski plays with Brady the next two years, General Manager Jason Licht did not want to risk losing his 2017 first-round pick to free agency next off-season.
This also means that if Cameron Brate expects any play-time whatsoever, Tampa Bay will need to include him in three tight end sets. Unfortunately for Brate, he is the worst run-blocking tight end on the roster, and he will need to make his impact in red-zone and goal-line sets.
This also means that the rumor that O.J. Howard was not happy as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer is likely put to bed. Howard will be catching passes from the greatest quarterback of all time and will be in the same tight end room as one of, if not, the greatest tight end of all time in Rob Gronkowski. Expect a bounce-back year from the fourth-year tight end out of Alabama.