The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can expect O.J. Howard to have a breakout season, regardless if Rob Gronkowski is brought back.
Perhaps fairly lost in the shuffle of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers star-studded Super Bowl championship roster is tight end, O.J. Howard. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that it’s pretty hard not to notice that the roster resembled the NFL’s 2014 All-Pro team. The other reason is injury, simple as that. When it comes to tight ends, what isn’t lost in the shuffle is if the Buccaneers will be bringing back Rob Gronkowski for 2021. However, if Howard can stay healthy, 2021 could be a big year for him regardless of what happens with Gronkowski.
Tom Brady loves Gronkowski, but he also loves his tight ends in general. Gronkowski has become the most dominant tight end the game has ever seen, but oftentimes there’s a second tight end also contributing to Brady’s success in compliment to Gronkowski. Should Gronkowski return for another rodeo, expect Howard to thrive as the second tight end. Howard’s best game in 2020
came in the game he tore his Achilles against the Los Angeles Chargers where he had three catches for 50 yards and a touchdown before his injury.
Despite Gronkowski not getting much regular-season action, he still commands attention. Gronkowski only had one catch for 29 yards against the Chargers, and Howard still thrived as the “primary” tight end. We even saw Cameron Brate thrive as the secondary tight end to Gronk in 2020. This should continue in 2021 should both tight end’s health sustains and Gronk is back.
If he doesn’t come back, Howard will still be fine. At 6 feet 6 inches and 251 pounds, Howard is a freak of nature tight end. He has shown flashes of brilliance when healthy, and we’ve seen Brady make tight ends better by maximizing their skillsets for the better part of two decades, even those with broken bodies like Gronkowski. Howard could also fall in that category.
Of course, this is all speculation based on the health of Howard, Gronkowski, and whether Gronk is even back. However, if the health is there, and regardless if Gronkowski is or not, O.J. Howard should thrive as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end.