O.J. Howard couldn't hide his excitement when he found out Tom Brady was his new quarterback in Tampa Bay. But the Buccaneers tight end actually might not get the chance to catch passes from the ex-New England Patriots signal-caller.
According to former NFL executive Michael Lombardi, the Bucs are trying to trade Howard and could do so before or during the upcoming NFL Draft.
“I [got] a phone call … from somebody in the league who said, ‘Look, I don’t think Howard’s going to be on the [Buccaneers this season]. They’re trying to trade him,’ ” Lombardi said Wednesday on the “GM Shuffle” podcast.
“They wanted a second-round pick for him at the trading deadline (that) no one would give them. Howard’s got a great name, but I think there’s an instinctive issue going on. I think he’s going to be available. It would not surprise me if he was traded on draft day or the day before.”
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Lombardi, a one-time Patriots staffer, has a long association with Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his son Mick is a Patriots assistant coach.
If the Bucs indeed are looking to part ways with the 25-year-old, the Patriots can be expected to have some interest. They have a glaring need at tight end with only Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo on the current depth chart, and this year's draft class isn't exactly loaded with talent at the position.
Howard didn't live up to expectations in 2019 as he caught 34 passes for 459 yards and only one touchdown. He was outperformed by fellow TE Cameron Brate, who caught 36 passes for 311 yards and four TDs while playing 351 fewer snaps.
Still, Howard would be an intriguing option for New England if he comes with a reasonable price tag. Along with the No. 23 overall selection in this year's draft, the Patriots own three third-round picks, one fourth and fifth-rounder, and two picks each in the sixth and seventh rounds.