Bucs want to use both Rob Gronkowski, OJ Howard in two-TE sets
Rob Gronkowski is coming out of retirement to join Tom Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and many have wondered what that means for young tight end O.J. Howard. Unless some team blows the Bucs away with a trade offer, it will likely mean a lot more single coverage.
When word surfaced on Tuesday that the Patriots were working out a trade with Tampa Bay for Gronk, many assumed Howard would be sent to New England as part of the deal. He was not, however, and Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times says the Buccaneers have plans to use both Howard and Gronkowski in offensive sets if they don’t receive an enticing offer for the former Alabama star.
Unless someone blows them away on a deal for OJ Howard in these next two days, the Bucs are happy to have him line up with Gronk two TE formations. https://t.co/0PFBt7zgKQ
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) April 22, 2020
Howard has never really lived up to his potential since the Bucs drafted him 19th overall three years ago. He averaged just 31.3 catches per year over his first three seasons. He proved to be a solid red-zone target with 11 touchdown receptions in his first 24 NFL games, but he has not been the game-changing force many expected him to be.
Obviously, Howard has a tremendous opportunity to change all of that. Aside from Brady being an upgrade over Jameis Winston, the presence of Gronkowski could open things up all over the field for Howard. Plus, given the way Gronk broke down toward the end of his tenure with the Patriots, the Bucs probably want to limit his reps to some degree. That should leave plenty of plays for Howard.