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O.J. Howard

O.J. Howard

Tight End #80
ADP:Round: 11, Pick: 8
Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ht / Wt:6'6" / 249 lb.
College:Alabama
Age:25
Born:November 18, 1994
Drafted:2017 / Rd. 1 (19)
Draft Team:TB

O.J. Howard: Could play regularly with Gronk

Howard could end up seeing steady snaps alongside Rob Gronkowski in 2020 after coach Bruce Arians said last week that "12 personnel," or two tight-end sets, will be the "base offense" for Tampa Bay, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: After a disappointing 2019 season in Arians' first year as coach, Howard looked like he could be headed out the door when the Bucs acquired Gronkowski in April, reuniting the latter with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. Instead, the Bucs not only elected to retain Howard, but they also exercised his $6.01 million fifth-year option for 2021, signaling that the 25-year-old is still firmly in the club's plans. He'll likely need to keep both the drops and penalties that plagued him in 2019 in check to both gain Brady's trust and ingratiate himself to Arians. If not, Howard could see his role on offense dwindle in favor of more three-receiver formations that would likely feature Chris Godwin in the slot rather than out wide.

June 11, 2020 1:05 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Starts working with Brady

Howard was among a contingent of Buccaneers skill players to attend a workout organized by Tom Brady at Berkeley Preparatory School on Tuesday, Rick Stroud and Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times report.

Analysis: The talented but somewhat embattled tight end, who was the subject of trade rumors prior to the draft, joined his new quarterback in what could become a series of regularly scheduled workouts until NFL facilities are once again open to players. Brady was reportedly the catalyst for Tuesday's proceedings and had a chance to throw to all of the players who attended, with Howard joined by position mate Cameron Brate but not Rob Gronkowski. It remains to be seen how coach Bruce Arians will find a way to keep three starting quality tight ends consistently involved in the upcoming season, and despite the fact the Buccaneers did pick up Howard's fifth-year option in late April, there still a possibility the 2017 first-round pick is dealt if the right offer is presented.

May 20, 2020 9:39 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Has fifth-year option extended

Howard will have his fifth-year option picked up by the Buccaneers, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: It's a bit of a surprise to see the Bucs announce this move so soon, particularly with rumors still swirling about a possible trade to a different team after the acquisition of Rob Gronkowski from the Patriots. It's worth pointing out, Howard will still be an incredibly affordable asset in 2020, accounting for just under $2 million as part of his rookie contract. The 25-year-old's deal with jump up to $6 million in 2021 -- still a minute figure when considering Howard's abilities to function as a strong run blocker, as well as reliable passing outlet.

April 29, 2020 12:11 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Pats still a possibility

Though Howard wasn't a part of the deal that sent Rob Gronkowski to Tampa Bay, NESN's Adam London indicates that there's still a chance the Buccaneers and Patriots could engineer a separate deal involving Howard.

Analysis: With Gronkowski now in the mix, it seems logical that either Howard or fellow returning tight end Cameron Brate could be on the move. Given that Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo are the only tight end options currently on the Patriots' roster, it's easy to see why adding Howard could be a good fit. New England heads into Thursday's NFL Draft with 12 picks, and some of them could be in play, either to draft a tight end, or trade for one like Howard.

April 22, 2020 11:35 AM EST

O.J. Howard: Targeted by Washington

The Buccaneers had discussions in February about trading Howard to Washington in exchange for left tackle Trent Williams, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports.

Analysis: The teams obviously were unable to reach an agreement at the time, but Tampa's recent acquisition of Rob Gronkowski could lead to reduced trade demands for Howard, who can be kept under team control through 2021 via the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. The Bucs face a May 4 deadline to decide on that option, assuming the 25-year-old tight end remains on their roster. A trade with Washington would still make sense, but it would be tougher for Tampa to absorb Williams' large contract now that Gronk accounts for a sizable portion of the cap space that was remaining after the team signed quarterback Tom Brady. The Bucs might prefer compensation in the form of draft picks.

April 22, 2020 7:08 AM EST

O.J. Howard: Likely on the move

Howard's chances of being traded appear higher than ever after the Buccaneers' acquisition of Rob Gronkowski on Tuesday, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: Naturally, there's also a plausible scenario where Cameron Brate is the player moved to ease the sudden glut of starting-quality tight ends on the Buccaneers roster, but Auman notes the latter already took a $4.25 million pay cut to remain with the team in 2020. Meanwhile, Howard was already rumored to be on the move prior to Tuesday's Gronkowski acquisition, and he would likely fetch a slightly higher draft pick in a trade than Brate due to his youth, athleticism and overall upside. With the upcoming draft lending a sense of urgency if Tampa wants to recoup the fourth-round selection it's just surrendered to the Patriots, a trade of Howard could well be imminent.

April 21, 2020 2:05 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Rumored to be on trade block

Howard is reportedly being shopped by the Buccaneers, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: Auman is passing along a report from colleague Mike Lombardi, who broke the news on the GM Shuffle podcast Wednesday by remarking that "Howard's got a great name, but I think there's an instinctive issue going on. I think he's going to be available." Auman notes Lombardi added he wouldn't be surprised to see Howard moved next week, presumably at some point before or during the draft. The Alabama product had an underwhelming first year (34-459-1) in coach Bruce Arians' offense in 2019, but there was a belief he might serve as the type of ultra-athletic tight-end target new quarterback Tom Brady has enjoyed considerable success with in the past.

April 15, 2020 9:15 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Major upgrade at QB

Howard is slated to catch passes from Tom Brady this coming season after the latter signed a two-year deal with the Buccaneers this week, Jim Trotter of NFL.com reports.

Analysis: The early stages of Howard's career have been largely defined by injury and inconsistent usage in the offensive schemes of both former head coach Dirk Koetter and current boss Bruce Arians. However, if the talented fourth-year pro is ever going to break out, it could well happen in the 2020 season, as he's set for a significant upgrade at quarterback. Howard has yet to exceed 34 receptions or 565 receiving yards in any of his first three campaigns; however, given Brady's favorable history with tight ends of Howard's elite skill set and the heavy use of the play-action passing and intermediate routes the future Hall of Famer has proven so proficient in, Howard could be primed for a significant spike in production in the coming season.

March 19, 2020 11:54 AM EST

O.J. Howard: Likely getting fifth-year option

General manager Jason Licht suggested the Buccaneers are likely to pick up the fifth-year option on Howard's contract, also noting that coaches are "more than excited" about what the tight end can do in his second year working under Bruce Arians, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: Given what transpired in 2019, it's fair to wonder if Howard and Arians share Licht's enthusiasm. The young tight end never came close to making good on his breakout hype, with Arians pointing to drops, penalties and poor blocking to explain why Howard averaged just 3.8 targets per game. The 25-year-old did at least manage 8.7 yards per target, a major drop off from 2017 and 2018 but still well above average for a tight end. Howard is sure to pick up steam as a post-hype "sleeper" in 2020 fantasy drafts, though it partially depends on how the Bucs handle their QB situation and whether or not fellow tight end Cameron Brate is a cap casualty. In any case, the team has until May 30 to make a decision on Howard's fifth-year option.

February 25, 2020 1:36 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Disappointing finish to season

Howard was not targeted in the Buccaneers' 28-22 overtime loss to the Falcons on Sunday, finishing the 2019 season with 34 receptions (53 targets) for 459 yards and a touchdown across 14 games.

Analysis: That Howard wasn't even targeted in a game the Buccaneers played without Mike Evans (hamstring) and Chris Godwin (hamstring) is somewhat strangely fitting, considering how underwhelming his 2019 season was overall. The third-year pro looked to be turning the corner over the prior four contests, a stretch during which he amassed 16 receptions for 226 yards, or nearly half his production for the entire campaign. Howard will hope to enjoy a bigger role in 2020, but his usage during his first season in coach Bruce Arians' offense did little to dissuade the notion that the tight end position has a low priority in the Buccaneers' head man's scheme.

December 30, 2019 9:52 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Pedestrian season continues

Howard caught three of seven targets for 46 yards in Saturday's 23-20 loss to the Texans.

Analysis: Howard failed to step up with the team missing top two wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to hamstring injuries. The 2017 first-rounder has been one of this season's biggest disappointments, topping 50 yards only three times all season while scoring just one touchdown. Howard will finish his season against the Falcons in Week 17.

December 21, 2019 2:12 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Solid effort in Week 15 win

Howard secured four of eight targets for 46 yards in the Buccaneers' 38-17 win over the Lions on Sunday.

Analysis: Howard checked in second only to Chris Godwin (hamstring) and Breshad Perriman in receptions for the afternoon, and the third-year tight end actually paced the team in targets. Howard now has 13 receptions over his last three games, as he's enjoying a steady role that's now poised to grow further if Godwin is forced to miss the Week 16 game against the Texans.

December 15, 2019 9:16 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Second consecutive strong game

Howard secured four of five targets for 73 yards in the Buccaneers' 38-35 win over the Colts on Sunday.

Analysis: Howard was second only to Chris Godwin in receiving yardage, with the tight end's tally his highest of the season. The athletic tight end may finally be hitting his stride in coach Bruce Arians' offense, as he's now brought in nine of 11 targets for 134 yards over the last two games combined. Howard could be in for extra volume moving forward as well if Mike Evans (hamstring) is out for any amount of time, which seems highly likely.

December 8, 2019 3:53 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Comes to life in Week 13 win

Howard secured five of six targets for 61 yards in the Buccaneers' 28-11 win over the Jaguars on Sunday.

Analysis: Howard co-led the Buccaneers in receptions with another unlikely candidate in Breshad Perriman, setting a new season high in catches in the process. The third-year tight end was coming off a two-game, Week 11-12 stretch during which he'd managed just one reception (on three targets) for 10 yards, so Sunday's surge was surprising to say the least. Howard hasn't really been able to piece together consecutive above-average performances yet this season, an unfavorable trend he'll look to avoid in Week 14 against the Colts.

December 1, 2019 3:06 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Another forgettable performance

Howard brought in one of two targets for 10 yards in the Buccaneers' 35-22 win over the Falcons on Sunday.

Analysis: The final line was an all-too-familiar theme for Howard and his fantasy managers, with the third-year tight end recording his third game with one or zero catches on the campaign. Howard offered a glimmer of hope two games ago versus the Cardinals with a 4-47-1 line, but the subsequent pair of contests have essentially served to negate any momentum he may have briefly generated. Given how late it is into the season, there have to be serious doubts about coach Bruce Arians' willingness to incorporate Howard further into the offense, making him a highly speculative play against the Jaguars in Week 13.

November 24, 2019 6:59 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Causes interception on only target

Howard failed to haul in his only target in Sunday's 34-17 loss to the Saints, instead tipping it into the air, resulting in a New Orleans interception.

Analysis: Coming off an encouraging 4-47-1 line in Week 10, Howard greatly underwhelmed in the division loss and was directly responsible for the first of Jameis Winston's four interceptions. Howard appeared to have secured a short pass at the Buccaneers' 17-yard line before somehow causing it to become airborne and landing into in the waiting arms of Saints linebacker Demario Davis to set New Orleans up with excellent field position. Howard's disappointing season is seemingly a microcosm of the team's as a whole, as the athletic third-year pro came into the campaign with high expectations and yet has fallen short of delivering more often than not. Howard will look to put Sunday's forgettable performance behind him against the division-rival Falcons in Week 12.

November 17, 2019 7:17 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Limited to two catches

Howard secured two of four targets for 35 yards in the Buccaneers' 37-26 loss to the Panthers on Sunday.

Analysis: Howard's yardage tally, modest as it was, qualified as his second highest of the season, a testament to how underwhelming his production has been. The third-year tight end's day could have been appreciably better from a fantasy perspective had he gotten into the end zone on a 30-yard reception early in the second quarter, but Howard was tackled at the Panthers' five-yard line and Ronald Jones went in for a score on the next play. Howard will look to come out of the bye week in more productive fashion while facing off with the Titans in Week 8.

October 13, 2019 7:19 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Another disappointing performance

Howard secured one of two targets for 10 yards in the Buccaneers' 31-24 loss to the Saints on Sunday.

Analysis: Howard's uninspired stat line tells the story and serves a microcosm of most of his season thus far. The promising third-year pro has seen his yardage totals drop over that of the previous game in each of the last two weeks, an unfavorable trend that's also applied to his targets over that span. Howard was far from the only Buccaneers pass catcher to disappoint Sunday, but in his case, the muted production has been a worrisome season-long trend. Howard will look for his first breakout game of the season across the pond against the Panthers during a Week 6 divisional showdown in London.

October 6, 2019 3:10 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Modest production again

Howard secured all three of his targets for 33 yards in the Buccaneers' 55-40 win over the Rams on Sunday.

Analysis: Another week, another quiet game for Howard, who's yet to top four catches or 66 receiving yards this season. The third-year tight end also has been kept out of the end zone thus far in 2019, so fantasy managers who invested some solid draft capital have to be bristling at his middling production, especially in a game during which the Buccaneers scored a franchise-record 55 points. Howard will look to put together his first breakout effort of the season in a Week 5 divisional matchup against the Saints.

September 29, 2019 5:45 PM EST

O.J. Howard: Bounces back in Week 3 loss

Howard secured three of four targets for 66 yards in the Buccaneers' 32-31 loss to the Giants on Sunday.

Analysis: Howard bounced back nicely from a complete blanking on the stat sheet in Week 2 versus the Panthers, logging a season-high 30-yard reception and his best receiving yardage tally over the first three games of the season as well. While the fact Howard saw only four targets Sunday is somewhat concerning, it's important to keep that general scarcity of looks in perspective. The pass distribution was extremely top heavy for the Buccaneers on Sunday, with Mike Evans leading the way with 15 targets and no other player logging more than Howard's tally otherwise, including the previously surging Chris Godwin. Therefore, Howard remains a risky but high-upside asset in all season-long and daily formats heading into a Week 4 matchup versus the Rams.

September 22, 2019 9:20 PM EST

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