O.J. Howard landing spots: Redskins among five teams most likely to trade for the tight end

Quarterback Tom Brady has found success with tight ends over the last two decades in the NFL, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be willing to part ways with their starting tight end before Brady has a chance to take his first snap in Tampa. During an appearance on the GM Shuffle podcast, Michael Lombardi of The Athletic reported that he was told by a league source the Buccaneers are attempting to trade tight end O.J. Howard — and he wouldn’t be surprised if Howard was traded within the next week.

Howard was selected by the Buccaneers with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He caught a career-high 34 receptions for 565 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games in 2018 before he was injured, but caught 34 passes for 459 receptions and just one touchdown in 14 games last year. He appeared to fall out of favor with head coach Bruce Arians, and now could be playing for a different team in 2020. 

In 38 career games, Howard has caught 94 passes for 1,456 yards and 12 touchdowns. Since he is only 25 years old, there could be a decent market for the former University of Alabama star. 

Here are five teams that should look hard into making an offer for the former first-round pick:

  1. Washington Redskins

A young quarterback’s development can be fast-tracked by a talented tight end, and that’s exactly what Dwayne Haskins needs entering his second season. New head coach Ron Rivera released Jordan Reed this offseason and Vernon Davis elected to retire. He was hoping he could bring in former Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, but he elected to sign with the Seattle Seahawks instead. The Redskins did sign Logan Thomas and Richard Rodgers in free agency, but Howard would clearly be an upgrade over those two. Rivera likes his tight ends, so he should explore what the Buccaneers are looking for in return.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are expected to take former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft next week, and like we just mentioned, a tight end can help a young quarterback in a big way. Cincinnati lost Tyler Eifert to the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency, and C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample haven’t exactly proven that they are major threats in the passing game. Joe Mixon is a solid running back, A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and John Ross are good receivers — all Burrow is missing is that tight end. 

3. Green Bay Packers

The Packers took a flier on the veteran Jimmy Graham a couple of seasons ago, and it didn’t really pan out. In 32 games, he caught 93 passes for 1,083 yards and just five touchdowns — which led to his release this offseason. The Packers have a young talent in Jace Sternberger and a veteran in Marcedes Lewis, but they could stand to add another tight end who can come in and make an immediate impact. Aaron Rodgers would like a tight end with potential, and that’s exactly what the 6-foot-8, 251-pound Howard provides. A change of scenery could do wonders for him, and teaming up with one of the best quarterbacks in the league won’t hurt either. 

4. New England Patriots

Wouldn’t this be something? What if the Buccaneers ship Howard off to Brady’s former team? Currently, Jarrett Stidham/Brian Hoyer only have Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo to work with, so a new tight end is definitely needed in New England. If anyone can turn Howard’s career around, you would have to think it would be Bill Belichick and Co. The Patriots may not be willing to offer the Buccaneers exactly what they are looking for, but I would at least call Jason Licht to shoot the breeze.  

5. Miami Dolphins

We have talked about how Howard could serve as a security blanket for a young quarterback several times already, and the same theory also applies to the Dolphins. Many expect Miami to take a quarterback in the first round such as Tua Tagovailoa out of Alabama or Justin Herbert out of Oregon — and the Dolphins could stand to upgrade at the tight end position. They have Mike Gesicki, who caught 51 passes for 570 yards and five touchdowns in 2019, but Howard would be an upgrade. 

Another reason the Dolphins appear to be a likely landing spot for Howard is that they have been so active in free agency. They opened their wallets for new left guard Ereck Flowers and picked up some big defensive starters in Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson and Byron Jones. They have the draft capital to work with, and they should easily be able to swing a deal for Howard should they want to. 

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