Trade Candidate(s): Buccaneers’ O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate

To say that the Buccaneers are stacked at tight end would be a gross understatement. Even before the Bucs reunited Tom Brady with longtime teammate and bro Rob Gronkowski, they had the formidable 1-2 combo of O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. Weeks after the draft, the Bucs still have that ludicrously talented TE trio in place. Logically, at least one of them probably has to go…and it obviously won’t be Gronk. 

The Buccaneers listened on trade offers for Brate and Howard towards the end of last month, but they didn’t get any offers to their liking. Publicly, the Bucs said they were okay with having all three TEs on the roster. Then, before the early May deadline, they exercised Howard’s fifth-year option for 2021. This doesn’t automatically mean that Brate is the odd man out, or that they’ll commit a total of ~$20MM to the position. Howard’s option – guaranteed for injury only – doesn’t hamper the Bucs’ ability to trade him. Also, this surplus of TEs would be opulent, even by Brady’s standards.

Howard, ostensibly, holds more trade value than Brate. The Alabama product hasn’t lived up to his first-round billing, but he’s flashed serious ability and uncommon athleticism for a 6’6″ receiver. The Bills saw that first-hand last year, as Howard went off for six catches, 98 yards, and two scores in Buffalo. And, roughly one year earlier against the Eagles, he got nearly as many yards, just with better efficiency – three catches for 96 yards, mostly thanks to a 75-yard connection with Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Teams aren’t sleeping on Brate, either. It’s true that he’ll turn 29 in July (Howard won’t be 26 until November), but he’s a proven playmaker and blocker. Between 2016 and 2017, he averaged 52 catches for 625 yards and seven TDs. After that, the Bucs rewarded him with a six-year, $41MM deal, including $18MM guaranteed. He’s been slowed by a surgically-repaired hip, but he’s more than a year removed from the operating table. It also helps that the Bucs restructured his deal in January. The exact terms of the restructure aren’t clear, but he’s probably on the books for less than the $4.5MM in guaranteed dollars he was slated for.

Howard wouldn’t be especially pricey for other teams, either – his rookie deal calls for a 2020 cap hit of just $3.5MM. The Bucs, meanwhile, would carry a $1.5MM charge for trading him.

The Bucs didn’t find any worthwhile deals for them in April, but interest should pick up between now and September. Even after drafting Cincinnati’s Josiah Deguara in the third round, the Packers could use a high-end TE to pair with Marcedes Lewis. The Bengals may also want to give the Bucs a call as they look to surround Joe Burrow with extra artillery. The list goes on. Depending on the asking price, the Bucs could have a market of 20+ teams for either Howard or Brate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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27 comments on “Trade Candidate(s): Buccaneers’ O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate

    • ChiTownFanTilDeath

      Bears need to be last in line, but another tight end is all Pace is concerned about.

    • Jcool90

      Ha wont help yall. Cant wait till my Baltimore Ravens play the girls. Ha Dak is not as good as yall or he thinks. Lamar will and will win a SB and will be the better out of the 2. Dak wont take yall to the promise land. Believe that, all of that talent and haha still can’t win. Sooo funny. #ravens2021SBChamps

      • seth3120

        I would take Jackson over Prescott but it’s hard to find a qb so I’m sure Dak will get paid at some point. Dallas has to pinning their hopes of winning on a coaching change because you made some valid points. When you are a .500 team and you’re trying to just hold on to the talent you have that’s not a good sign. Sometimes a coaching change can make a difference though

    • Simmons>Russ

      Cowboys just signed Blake Jarwin and are already paying everyone. I don’t think they need either

    • jkoms57

      That’s why I see them keeping all 3 at least until the trade deadline.

      Gronk is injury prone and Brady needs 2 TEs because he hasn’t been much of a downfield passer

        • Appalachian_Outlaw

          Agreed. They don’t need 3 TEs of that caliber, but there’s no harm in having them if you can afford it. If you find a deal for one where you can get a RB you like, or a strong defensive piece, you can do it. If not, just hold onto the depth. When you sign Brady and trade for Gronk, you’re all-in on this season. Too many good players is never a problem in that scenario.

        • bradthebluefish

          Agreed. And Brate and Gronk can block. Why not have all three if there’s no deal to be had.

  1. wagner13

    I think the Redskins and Cardinals should inquire as well. Haskins and Murray could use a big-bodied endzone target and their respective teams are sorely lacking at the position

    • DTD_ATL

      The Cardinals offense doesn’t really have a use for TE. Plus, Fitz and Hopkins are big bodies for the red zone.

    • You’re in the huddle, inside the opponents 5 yard line, and you are looking at Deandre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and OJ Howard… who you going to throw to!? I would throw it to Hopkins 3 times and Fitz once before I even remembered OJ Howard was on the field.

      • wagner13

        What if Hopkins and Fitzgerald are double-teamed? I’m not saying he necessarily has to be the primary option, but it certainly helps to have someone better than a scrub like Maxx Williams as your top tight end

  2. washington_bonercats

    They should keep them both. Week 5 when Gronk gets blasted in the knee the Bucs will need a reliable back up. Ron Rivera should definitely try his best to get Howard tho.

  3. Whateverworks77

    Thanks to wagner…talk about howard and describe brate…for the life of me, i cant see why PFT keeps this sausage writer around. Every story has a misstep.

  4. Simmons>Russ

    I still like the OJ Howard for Marlon Mack idea.

    Indy gets a solid young receiving TE in Howard which is an upgrade they could do with and makes that offence even better this offseason.
    They would have Hilton Pitman Taylor and Howard, plus young QBs Brissett and Eason.
    With Mack his deal expires at the end of the season and they chose not to use the 5th year option. They also just drafted Taylor who many expect will overtake Mack as their first option at RB.

    For the Buccs they would be giving up Howard who is a nice young receiving TE but they would be getting back a productive RB. Mack who grew up in the area in Sarasota and went to college at university of south Florida all in Tampa Bay Area. He just had a 1000 yard season running the football with 8TDs and no fumbles. That’s what the Buccs need. At RB right now they have 2 young players one a rookie, who probably would be alright but Mack is a definite upgrade and could help them win a SB.
    Then when it comes to resigning him, he would be signing for a successful team who have a good chance of winning in the playoffs, he would be signing for his home team near his home town, and he would be signing to be apart of an already great offence with Evans and Godwin.
    With Gronk on a 1 year, 9 mil deal and Suh on a 1 year 8mil deal they could easily come up with the money to sign Mack

      • Simmons>Russ

        Mack had 14 receptions last year in 14 games… Taylor can easily do that, he had 8 receptions last year.
        Plus in Howard your getting a receiving TE

      • Simmons>Russ

        Plus a reason to trade him is he’s on a 1 year deal and needs to be extended now. Apparently they haven’t even opened talks about an extension so by trading him your getting something of good value for a player who might not even be there 1 year from now.

  5. Katsuro

    Honestly, if they can afford all 3, they should keep them. As a Patriots fan (born and raised in Mass, not a bandwagoneer), I love Gronk and was saddened by his departure. Let’s be real though, he has suffered more than his share of injuries (dating back to college days), now that he is coming off a year out, guarantee wasn’t in football shape and we all can safely assume his “lifestyle” over the last year was less than that of a normal football player would have. While I hope the best for his career, these ingredients don’t exactly add up to a healthy season, nor productive as he once was.

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