Buccaneers shouldn’t trade O.J. Howard, and here’s why

The Buccaneers might be looking to trade tight end O.J. Howard, but that wouldn’t be a wise move for Tampa Bay in what could be a special season.

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted O.J. Howard with the 19th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, it really seemed as though he had the makings of being one of the next greats at the tight end spot.

At 6’6″ and 251 pounds, Howard has the ideal size to play tight end in the NFL and he was a prime red zone target during his first two seasons as a pro. Even though the Crimson Tide tight end hasn’t necessarily racked up the yardage, he was a touchdown machine in his first two seasons, totaling 11 in 24 games.

This past year, he had just one touchdown along with 459 yards and it was considered a disappointing season because there were lofty expectations for Howard in his third year in Tampa. While 2019 was a down year for Howard, trading him and giving up on him doesn’t seem necessary.

The Bucs signed Tom Brady this offseason and that could be the spark Howard needs to become one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Brady LOVES throwing to his tight end, as indicated from his and Rob Gronkowski‘s historic run together in Foxborough, and Howard is likely going to be one of his go-tos due to his size alone.

When Brady was at his best in Foxborough, he had two solid tight ends at his disposal and that’s what Tampa Bay can offer him this season by keeping Howard and pairing him with Cameron Brate.

The two have competed for targets , which is another reason Howard’s numbers were lower last year with him getting 53 targets and Brate getting targeted 55 times in 2019. Both are great options and can bulldoze over defenders in the secondary.

If the Buccaneers want to compete with the Saints for the NFC South title this season, they need to have as many weapons on offense as possible. Having Brady is great, but giving him two electric tight ends is a recipe for a successful first season in Tampa for TB12.

If the Bucs did trade Howard, they’d obviously fixate on Brate as the primary tight end, but what’s the plan then if Brate gets injured? This year’s tight end draft class isn’t all that impressive, so finding a suitable backup there isn’t the way to go. Keep Howard and Brate and lean heavily on both of them.

Tampa Bay really does have one of the best offenses on paper heading into the 2020 season and taking O.J. Howard out of that mix would take a little of that edge off. He might have had a down year in 2019, but football fans saw how good Howard can be when he’s at his best. He’s only 25 years old and now has a year of Bruce Arians’ offense under his belt.

This could be a truly special season for Tampa Bay and O.J. Howard could post career numbers with Tom Brady throwing the football to him. Trading him would be a bad idea.

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