Quarterback Tom Brady has had success with tight ends in the past two decades in the NFL, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be ready to part from their stretch before Brady has a chance to take his first slamming in Tampa. In an appearance on the GM Shuffle podcast, Michael Lombardi of The Athletic reported that he had been informed by a league source that– and he wouldn’t be surprised if Howard were traded next week.
Howard was selected by the Buccaneers with overall pick # 19 in the 2017 NFL Draft. He grabbed a career high of 34 receptions for 565 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games in 2018 before being injured, but had 34 assists for 459 receptions and a single touchdown in 14 games last year. He appeared to fall out of favor with head coach Bruce Arians, and could now play for another team in 2020.
In 38 career games, Howard has captured 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 Alabama star.
Here are five teams that should be looking to bid for the former first round pick:
1. Washington Redskins
The development of a young quarterback can be accelerated by a talented close end, and that’s exactly what Dwayne Haskins needs to get into his second season. New head coach Ron Rivera released Jordan Reed during the off season and Vernon Davis retired. Rivera hoped to bring in former Carolina Panthers player Greg Olsen, but chose to sign with the Seattle Seahawks instead. The Redskins signed Logan Thomas and Richard Rodgers as a free agency, but Howard would clearly be an upgrade from 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 on former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft next week, and as we just mentioned, a close end can help a young quarterback significantly . Cincinnati lost Tyler Eifert to the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency, and C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample did not exactly prove that they were major threats in the assist game. Joe Mixon is a solid ball carrier, A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and John Ross are good receivers – all that Burrow misses is that close end.
3. Green Bay Packers
The Packers took a flight from veteran Jimmy Graham a few seasons ago, and it didn’t really work. In 32 games, he caught 93 passes for 1,083 yards and only 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 bear to add another tight ending that can come in and have an immediate impact. Aaron Rodgers would like a close ending with potential, and that’s exactly what Howard is 6 feet 6 inches, 251 pounds. A change of scenery could do wonders for him, and teaming up with one of the best quarters in the league won’t hurt either.
4. New England Patriots
Wouldn’t that be something? What if the Buccaneers send Howard to Brady’s old team? Currently, Jarrett Stidham / Brian Hoyer only has Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo to work with, so a new sharp turn is definitely needed in New England. If anyone can turn Howard’s career around, you’d think it would be Bill Belichick and Co..
5. Miami Dolphins
We’ve already explained on several occasions how Howard could serve as a safety blanket for a young quarterback, and the same theory also applies to the Dolphins. Many expect Miami to take a quarterback in the first round, like Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama or Justin Herbert of Oregon – and the Dolphins could level up in 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 why dolphins seem to be a likely landing place 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 big defensive starters from Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson and Byron Jones. They have the capital project to work with, and they should easily be able to negotiate an agreement with Howard if they wish.