Buccaneers: Was Thursday showcase game to trade O.J. Howard?

O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

O.J. Howard finally flashed his talent in 2021 during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football. Was this a deliberate showcase game for the Buccaneers to attempt to trade the tight end?

The NFL trade deadline will be here before we know it, and tight ends are already on the move, with the Eagles shipping off Zach Ertz to the Arizona Cardinals after the aforementioned Thursday Night game. Another tight end that has been rumored to be on the move for a while now is Howard.

Given the fact that the Bucs chose to draft Howard out of the University of Alabama with the 19th overall pick of the 2017 Draft, it makes it that much tougher of a move. Any time a team has to potentially cut bait with a former first-round pick, it almost always leaves something of a sour taste in the mouths of many, since it’s essentially conceding defeat and admitting the choice was a whiff.

That being said, with Rob Gronkowski out again, the Buccaneers decided to utilize the ultra-athletic tight end more than they have in a while in front of a national audience. Howard caught six of his seven targets and adding his first touchdown of the season. It’s easy to surmise that they did this in order to enhance his value as much as possible. Here’s why.

At 6 feet 6 inches and 251 pounds, Howard is a freak of nature for a tight end given his speed and athleticism for his size. 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. The keywords here are “when healthy”. The best ability is availability. Unfortunately for Howard, he has only played in 42 games since entering the league in 2017 and has never played a full season.

If the Buccaneers are to trade Howard, now is a perfect time. The deadline is on the horizon, and the market has been set with the Ertz trade. Not only that, after the performance of Howard in a primetime game, it’s hard to imagine his value going up any time soon, especially with Gronk’s return imminent.

Thursday night was absolutely a showcase game for the Buccaneers to eventually trade O.J. Howard, and the fact that they got a win with his contributions is an added bonus.

Related Story. Three reasons we gave to trade him months ago. light