O.J. Howard Is On the Trade Block And the Patriots Should Pounce

O.J. Howard makes a move down field for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Carolina Panthers
O.J. Howard makes a move down field for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Carolina Panthers / Naomi Baker/Getty Images

O.J. Howard is reportedly on the trade block and, if that's the case, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots should find a way to land him.

The Athletic's Michael Lombardi took to his podcast on Wednesday and claimed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would look to move Howard either leading up to or during the 2020 NFL Draft. If the Bucs have given up on their young tight end, the Patriots need to see if they can snag him.

In 2019, the Patriots had arguably the worst tight end rotation in the NFL. Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo and Eric Tomlinson combined to catch 37 passes for 419 yards and two touchdowns. The position was a mess, especially after years of the offense relying on big-time production out of its tight ends.

Howard hasn't lived up to the hype that surrounded him coming out of college. In three professional seasons, he has yet to really break out. In 2019, he caught 34 passes for 459 yards and one touchdown, which was especially disappointing considering his quarterback led the NFL in passing yards. Over his three-year career he's only managed 94 receptions for 1,456 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was the 19th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, so his production to this point ranks as a big disappointment.

That said, he's still only 25 years old and is an exceptional athlete, with size, speed and good hands. He's 6-foot-6, 251 pounds and ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at the 2017 scouting combine. There's a reason so much hype followed him after an All-America junior season at Alabama.

Belichick has made a living out of buying low on talented players and turning them into useful pieces. Howard would give him plenty to work with. The kid has ridiculous talent and could develop into the Rob Gronkowski replacement the franchise has been looking for.

Given that the Bucs already have Cameron Brate locked up to a sizable contract, they might be willing to let Howard go relatively cheaply. The Patriots don't have a second-round pick, but hold three in the third-round this year, plus a full complement of picks in 2021. There's a deal to be made here if Tampa Bay is really willing to part with Howard.