Bucs GM shuts down O.J. Howard trade talk: Team ‘excited’ to pair TE with Gronkowski

Sep 22, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard (80) reacts during the second quarter against the New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reportedly been shopping tight end O.J. Howard, but the team shut down the trade talk on Thursday.

Or something like that, anyway.

General manager Jason Licht said on draft day that the Bucs are “excited about having OJ Howard play with Rob Gronkowski,” per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

This could perhaps be a ploy to drive up Howard’s asking price, but it also isn’t the craziest idea that the Bucs could keep Howard. He hasn’t truly lived up to his hype as a first-round pick from 2017. However, Howard has incredible potential and, if he remains on the roster, would have one of the game’s greatest quarterbacks to play with.

Brady has traditionally turned tight ends into stars. Having Howard, Gronkowski and Cameron Brate on the roster would give him three outstanding playmakers, and there’s always a chance Gronk gets injured at some point given his extensive injury history.

So, at this point it appears the Buccaneers would be content to keep Howard unless they get a really big offer in exchange during the draft.