Last night, the Bucs managed to escape Philadelphia with a six-point victory in defeating the Eagles 28-22. That isn’t as much of a surprise compared to the rare OJ Howard sighting.
Since being drafted by the Bucs in the first round of the 2017 Draft, Howard’s career in Tampa can be summed up in one word, plagued. Howard has found himself as sort of the odd man out in the tight end room the last two seasons, mainly due to his inability to remain healthy. Since 2017, Howard has only seen action in 41 out of 48 games, which doesn’t seem too horrible, but when you take a look back at those missed games, the fifth-year tight end usually has found himself on the IR when he was gaining momentum.
Howard has only played in 14 games twice in his career before finding himself watching from the sidelines while recovering from injuries. Both 2017 and 2018, Howard became a staple in the Bucs offense with 60 receptions, 997 yards, and 11 touchdowns while averaging 16.6 yards per reception before his seasons both ended due to injuries. 2019, Howard added another 34 receptions, 459 yards, and a score before being injured. The same story in 2020, except Howard, ended up spending the remainder of the season recovering from an Achilles injury, suffered in the first game.
A few years back, when Howard was subject to rumors on being traded for OT Trent Brown or Trent Richardson, I made comments in regards to it on Buc Life Media’s “BritBuc Invasion” that “fans needed to slow down on the talks because Howard was an outstanding complement to Cam Brate.” To this day, I still stand behind the statements at that time, but here in 2021 — it might be time to pull the trigger and find a respectable trade partner.
As you read this, you’re probably asking yourself, “why would we trade him now?” The answer is quite simple, once Gronkowski returns next week, the rare sightings of Howard will become almost an after-thought. It is in my humble opinion that Howard has seen his best days in Tampa become a thing of the past. If he were able to remain healthy, his story would be written in a different context.
Howard would be best suited to being traded to a team that needs a quality tight end. The Bucs need to think about a suitable team that can spare a quality defensive back to help the Bucs’ depleted secondary along with possibly a 4th or 5th round draft pick.
It may be hard to digest trading the first-round selection during a contract year, but the way things are looking for the youngster, he may be searching for that big payday from another team.