As expected, Bucs are exercising the fifth-year option for 2021 on tight end O.J. Howard. Should pay him $6 million next season. Jason Licht had said at the combine that things were moving in that direction.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) April 29, 2020
Howard, the Buccaneers’ first round pick in 2017, had a lot of speculation surrounding his future following the Bucs’ acquisition of Rob Gronkowski last week but it appears that the Bucs are excited about Howard’s future with Tom Brady at quarterback and are anxious to see what he will be able to do moving forward.
Despite tying his career high in receptions in 2019, Howard was one of the more disappointing players in the league having seen his overall production slip. One of the knocks on Bruce Arians’ offense is that he doesn’t utilize the tight ends much in the passing game. Adding to that, the Bucs’ offensive line was beat up and depleted throughout the season, causing Howard to be asked to hang back and block to allow more time for Jameis Winston to pass the ball down field.
Jason Licht expressed his excitement and desire to keep Howard despite the trade rumors swirling just ahead of the NFL Draft stating, “We’re excited about having O.J. Howard play with Rob Gronkowski. Why wouldn’t you want to have many weapons at that position? We have an excellent tight end group right now.”
Howard’s option will pay him around $6-million dollars for 2021 and doesn’t necessarily prevent the Buccaneers from still moving him in a trade. Although, with Gronkowski only on a one year deal, it makes sense that the Bucs ensure that Howard returns for at least one more season for a very affordable price.
UPDATE: The Buccaneers have made the announcement official;