With the return of of O.J. Howard to the already viscously potent Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense, one might assume that Howard will see a diminished role for Tom Brady as Rob Gronkowski now has a season under his belt after his one-year retirement, while Howard is just returning to running after he ruptured his Achilles four games into last season.
However, all evidence points to Howard having a career year that could propel him to a spot within the top 5 tight ends in the league.
The stats are hard to argue, and Howard has them. Since he entered the league, Howard has averaged 15.3 yards per catch, more than George Kittle and Travis Kelce in that same span. Additionally, even with Bucs slow start last season, he was still off to a blazing start last year with 146 yards and 2 touchdowns. If not for his injury, his numbers would have presumably only gotten better as the team hit its stride towards the second half of the year.
It is also apparent how much Tom Brady loves throwing to his tight ends over the years, especially in the red zone, which should provide Howard with no shortage of opportunities to continue his offensive production.
With the Bucs stable of top-tier wide receivers, it’s likely that Howard will be the recipient of a plethora of favorable coverage matchups, and an athlete like himself will undoubtedly take advantage of that and prosper as a result. Tom Brady will now keep the best wide receiver room in the NFL for 2021, and he also adds one of the most athletic tight ends.
Maybe the most vital aspect of why Howard will be one of the best tight ends next season is the depth for the Bucs at the position. By sharing snaps with Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate, he won’t have to push himself too hard at the beginning of the season as he returns. This will also reduce the wear and tear that leads to the serious injuries that have plagued his career so far.
It’s no secret the Bucs tight end depth chart is deep and talented, and O.J. Howard will surely be the most dominant part of it during this 2021 campaign.
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