O.J. Howard

Buccaneers Open To Trading O.J. Howard?

O.J. Howard might be on the block, after all. The Buccaneers would be willing to part with the athletic tight end for a “substantial offer,” Jenna Laine of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears. 

Multiple teams have inquired on Howard in recent weeks, even as the Buccaneers told the world that he was not available. With ~24 hours to go before the October trade deadline, the Bucs may be willing to move him to a contender in need of a playmaker.

For the most part, Howard hasn’t been used all that much in Bruce Arians‘ offense. Through six games, Howard has just 13 grabs for 176 yards and zero scores. Last year, in ten games (eight starts), Howard managed 34 catches for 565 yards and five TDs. Arians might not have lots of ideas for Howard, but plenty of other teams would love to add a tight end of his caliber with deep threat potential.

The Patriots are said to be interested in the former first-round pick, though they also have other tight end targets in mind, such as Bengals notable Tyler Eifert. Howard would represent a younger option – he won’t turn 25 until November.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Notes: Trades, Brady, Gronk

The Patriots made a couple of notable trades over the past week, acquiring wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and jettisoning defensive end Michael Bennett. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that the team is not done dealing, and his sources say New England is continuing its efforts to strengthen its offense.

Even with Sanu in the fold, La Canfora says the Pats are still expected to pursue receiver help, and although all indications are that the Bengals won’t trade A.J. Green prior to Tuesday’s deadline, rival GMs expect Bill Belichick to take a run at him just the same. As reported previously, the club is also interested in bolstering its tight end group, and Cincinnati’s Tyler Eifert and Tampa’s O.J. Howard appeal to the Patriots. Additionally, New England remains in the market for O-line upgrades, with Washington’s Trent Williams, Cincinnati’s Cordy Glenn, and old friend and current Giant Nate Solder also potential targets.

Now for more out of Foxborough:

  • Despite La Canfora’s report that the Patriots will continue to be aggressive in the trade market, Michael Lombardi of The Athletic says the Pats are not involved in any deals right now, as they are quite limited in cap room (Twitter link). The Bennett trade helped to facilitate the Sanu acquisition, but if New England is going to make another splash, it may need to cut or restructure another player.
  • For the first time in 20 years, Tom Brady‘s future is uncertain, and one of the league’s most respected reporters, Adam Schefter, recently said that Brady staying with the Pats beyond 2019 is less likely than his retiring or suiting up for another club. Another of the NFL’s most prominent scribes, Ian Rapoport, doesn’t go as far as Schefter, but he does say that Brady’s tone with respect to his future has changed dramatically, and RapSheet confirms that TB12’s 2020 plans are very much up in the air (video link). On the other hand, Schefter points out that Brady’s strong relationships with Belichick and owner Robert Kraft — which were reportedly strained not that long ago — could convince the future Hall-of-Famer to stay in New England.
  • If Brady does play elsewhere in 2020, La Canfora says the Chargers would hold significant appeal to him given his connections to SoCal and his increasing interest in Hollywood.
  • Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski recently stated in no uncertain terms that he would remain retired, but as Stefan Geller of the Boston Herald writes, that could still change. Gronk is calling on the league to allow players to use CBD products to aid in their recoveries, and if that happens, he suggested he could come back. “I also want to have the option to get back into the game, and if I’m banned next year, I can’t,” Gronkowski said. Gronkowski, obviously, is using CBD products and recently partnered with CBD Medic.
  • Tom Pelissero of NFL.com names Patriots special teams/WRs coach Joe Judge and ILB coach Jerod Mayo as two assistants who could garner head coaching interest during next year’s coaching carousel. While it would be a stretch to see the 33-year-old Mayo as an HC in 2020, especially since he just became an NFL coach seven month ago, it would not be surprising to see him get an interview.

Patriots Inquired On Bucs’ O.J. Howard

The Patriots inquired on Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard, Albert Breer of The MMQB hears. However, they were rebuffed – the Bucs say they’re keeping him, which jibes with what we heard last week

The Patriots learned that they may be forced to place Matt LaCosse on injured reserve, which led them to (another) reunion with veteran Ben Watson. Watson may still have something left in the tank, but he does not offer the athleticism and upside of Howard, a former first-round pick who has flashed major potential in the past.

The Bucs’ refusal to trade Howard is understandable, but still confusing to some – new head coach Bruce Arians has yet to make him a true focal point of the offense and he has just 13 catches for 176 yards so far this year, with no touchdowns. In six games, Howard has been targeted an average of three times, down from nearly five targets per game in 2018.

With eight days to go before the trade deadline, it sounds like the Patriots will continue to look for tight end help. In the meantime, they’ll work with what they’ve got as they get set to face the Jets tonight.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Won’t Trade O.J. Howard

The Buccaneers won’t shop O.J. Howard between now and the trade deadline, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). Howard hasn’t been utilized much in Bruce Arians‘ offense, but the club, apparently, believes that will change soon. 

Howard, a first-round pick in 2017, notched 34 catches for 565 yards and five touchdowns last year before landing on IR in November with foot and ankle injuries. In each of his first two pro seasons, he averaged 16.6 yards per grab, demonstrating that he can be an effective weapon when targeted.

Through six games this year, he’s got just 13 catches for 176 yards and zero touchdowns. On average, Howard has been targeted three times per game, down from 4.8 looks last year. The Bucs, meanwhile, are 2-4.

The NFL trade deadline is on Tuesday, Oct. 29. Between now and then, the Bucs will have their bye and face the Titans on Oct. 27.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Vikings, Packers, Colts, Bucs, Falcons

The Vikings received some excellent news on Monday when an MRI revealed cornerback Xavier Rhodes suffered a “very, very mild” hamstring injury, head coach Mike Zimmer told reporters, including Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter link). While Minnesota does have depth in its secondary (Mackensie Alexander, Holton Hill), the club had already lost rookie first-round corner Mike Hughes for the season. And missing Rhodes, who was named All-Pro in 2017, for any amount of time would have been devastating. After beating the Packers on Sunday night, the Vikings now have a 63% chance of earning a postseason berth, per FiveThirtyEight.com.

Let’s take a look at more injury news from around the NFL:

  • Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari suffered two knee injuries and an ankle injury against the Vikings last night, but there is still hope he’ll be able to play against the Cardinals in Week 13, as Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes. After being defeated by Minnesota, Green Bay will almost surely need to win out to have any chance at making the playoffs, and losing Bakhtiari certainly wouldn’t help matters. Arguably the league’s best pass-blocking tackle, Bakhtiari missed six games over his first five seasons in the NFL. If Bakhtiari’s not able to play against Arizona, former second-round pick Jason Spriggs would take over on Aaron Rodgers‘ blindside.
  • After going down with a concussion against the Dolphins, Colts running back Marlon Mack is “iffy” for Week 13, tweets Mike Chappell of Fox59. Mack missed three games with a hamstring injury earlier this year, but has averaged 16.5 carries per game since as Indianapolis’ lead back. The 6-5 Colts face a winnable game against the Jaguars next Sunday as they fight for a playoff spot, and would turn to Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines to play more snaps if Mack can’t go.
  • Buccaneers receiver DeSean Jackson is headed to New York to get a second opinion on his thumb injury, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jackson was originally injured in Week 11, and while he played against the 49ers in Week 12, it still sounds as though the issue is bothering him. Elsewhere in Tampa Bay, tight end O.J. Howard — who is already on injured reserve — is facing a four-to-six week recovery timeline for his ankle ailment, tweets Laine. Given that the Bucs are already out of postseason contention, Howard isn’t a candidate to return this year.
  • Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said linebacker Deion Jones looks excellent but stopped short of saying Jones will be ready for Week 13, reports Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jones was activated off injured reserve in advance of Week 11, but he still has yet to see the field. After originally suffering a foot injury in Week 1, Jones hasn’t played since, and his — and other key defenders’ — absences have contributed to Atlanta’s disappointing 4-7 record.

Extra Points: Jerry Jones, Gallup, Cowboys, Steelers, Howard, Buccaneers

Professional took a long winding path back to Los Angeles, and eventually ended with two teams. After many years of discussion, both the Chargers and Rams ended up relocating. There were a bunch of rumors over the years about other potential options for the NFL to make its way back to Los Angeles but we never really had many details, until now. Jerry Jones was reportedly approached and given the option to bring a team to L.A., according to ProFootballTalk.com.

Jones revealed what went down in a recent interview he did, saying “Several years back, I was approached by several owners that asked if I would consider selling the team, and the team being a more elite team and I take Los Angeles and build Los Angeles.” Jones explained that he never wanted to sell the Cowboys and it obviously never happened, but Jones re-establishing the L.A. market for the NFL would’ve been highly entertaining, if nothing else.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • After the tragic passing of his brother, Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup‘s status was understandably in doubt for today’s Thanksgiving game. While he missed practice this week, Gallup will in fact play against the Redskins in today’s game, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). It’s great news for the Cowboys’ suddenly resurgent offense, and our thoughts are with Gallup and his family.
  • The Steelers already have a couple of talented tight ends in Jesse James and Vance McDonald, but are apparently doing due diligence on the position. The team worked out former Eagles tight end Billy Brown yesterday, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Brown, a 2017 undrafted free agent, has never appeared in a regular season game so perhaps this is just for the updating of emergency lists.
  • Promising Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard had his season ended last week by an ankle injury, but he did get some good news. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter announced that Howard’s injury wasn’t as bad as some initially thought and “won’t require surgery and shouldn’t be a long-term issue”, according to Scott Smith of the Buccaneers’ official website (Twitter link). It’s great news, and Howard should be poised to become one of the best tight ends in the league in 2019.

Buccaneers Place O.J. Howard On IR

The Buccaneers have placed tight end O.J. Howard on IR, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). The tight end suffered foot and ankle injuries in Sunday’s 38-35 loss to the Giants and those issues will require extra time to heal. 

With that, Howard’s second season as a pro will end with 34 catches for 565 yards and five 5 touchdowns. On the plus side, the injury is not expected to hurt him in the long run, so he should be ready to participate in practices next summer.

The Howard injury should mean an uptick in targets for fellow tight end Cameron Brate. Brate has shined in the past, but he has recorded just six grabs for 45 yards and no touchdowns in the past three games.

Head coach Dirk Koetter badly needs Brate to step up in Howard’s absence. The team’s 3-7 record has Koetter on the hot seat and he’ll need a strong finish in order to save his job.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs’ O.J. Howard Suffers MCL Sprain

Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard sprained his MCL and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The good news is that the Bucs are coming up on their bye week, so Howard could wind up missing only one game if he heals quickly. 

[RELATED: Bucs Bench Ryan Fitzpatrick For Jameis Winston]

Howard, the No. 19 overall pick in last year’s draft, has impressed despite having to share tight end duties with Cameron Brate. The Bucs, naturally, will lean a bit more on the the 27-year-old for however long Howard is out. They also have Antony Auclair and Alan Cross on the roster, so they don’t necessarily have to bring in an extra tight end.

In his four games, Howard has eleven catches for 222 yards and a touchdown. Last year, Howard found the end zone six times and had 26 grabs for 432 yards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Place TE O.J. Howard On IR

Tight end O.J. Howard and safety Justin Evans have been ruled out for the year, the Buccaneers announced. As previously reported, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, guard J.R. Sweezy, and linebacker Adarius Glanton have also been placed on IR, meaning that the Bucs have shut down five players for the year on the same day. O.J. Howard (vertical)

[RELATED: Buccaneers Place Vernon Hargreaves On IR]

Howard (first round) and Evans (second round) were the Bucs’ top draft picks in 2017. Howard was productive in the end zone this year, notching six touchdowns with 26 catches and 432 yards. Evans, meanwhile, made nine starts and recorded 49 tackles with three interceptions. Needless to say, both players will play a major role on the team next year.

Fellow tight end Cameron Brate, who also had a strong season, is expected to be retained with a high restricted free agent tender.

The 4-10 Buccaneers would have the No. 7 pick in the draft if the season ended today. The Texans (pick belongs to the Browns), 49ers, and Bears all have equal records, but the Bucs rank lower in the draft order due to their strength of schedule.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Sign First-Round TE O.J. Howard

The juice is no longer loose. The Buccaneers have signed first-round pick O.J. Howard, according to a team announcement. O.J. Howard (Vertical)

Heading into the draft, the Alabama product was projected by some as a top 10 pick. With that in mind, the Bucs were over the moon when they were able to grab Howard at No. 19 overall. Evan Engram and David Njoku were also widely regarded as Day 1 talents, but Howard was universally considered to be the best TE in this year’s crop.

The 6’6″ tight end tallied 45 catches and 595 yards with three touchdowns in his senior year for the Crimson Tide. Blessed with tremendous athletic ability, Tampa Bay is excited about the prospect of using him in a lot of two tight end sets alongside last year’s starter Cameron Brate. In time, Howard could become the team’s TE1 and a top overall performer at the position.

Howard is the first member of the Buccaneers’ rookie class to sign. The team still have five players to go, including second round safety Justin Evans, third round wide receiver Chris Godwin, and third round linebacker Kendell Beckwith.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.