O.J. Howard is one of the most talented tight ends in the NFL, and he’s going to waste on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. First-year head coach Bruce Arians never utilized tight ends at any of his previous coaching destinations, and that hasn’t changed in Tampa Bay. While Howard’s snap count is higher than it was last year, he’s running routes at a lower rate than in 2018. Howard isn’t made for Arians’ scheme, and the Patriots should trade to acquire the talented tight end.
O.J. Howard A Perfect Trade Target for New England Patriots
The New England Patriots already have a ridiculous amount of offensive weapons. Between Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman, Antonio Brown, James White, and Tom Brady, this should be one of the top offenses in all of football. While New England doesn’t necessarily need Howard right now, he’d make the offense better while providing additional security in the offense.
New England’s wide receivers and running backs are fantastic, but the tight ends are fairly unremarkable. Ryan Izzo is the only healthy tight end on the roster, and he’s more of a blocker than a receiver. While he’s certainly good at his job, nobody is gameplanning against Ryan Izzo. Adding Howard to the mix provides yet another elite weapon for the offense. Put simply, nobody can stop Brown, Gordon, Edelman, Howard, and White, especially when the quarterback is Tom Brady.
Additionally, Howard could provide additional security in case injury strikes. While the wide receiver depth chart is loaded, each player carries an advanced risk. Josh Gordon has a long history of substance abuse and is one mistake away from an indefinite suspension. Antonio Brown faces a sexual assault suit and could go on the Commissioner’s Exempt list after Roger Goodell meets with Brown’s accuser. Julian Edelman, meanwhile, has only played a full 16-game season twice in his 11-year career.
While it is unlikely, it’s possible that all three players miss significant time this year. Howard has some injury woes of his own, but he’s a game-changing talent when on the field. Tom Brady is 42 years old, and he probably can’t play forever. New England’s top priority should be surrounding Brady with as much talent as possible for the remainder of his career.
What to Give Up
Acquiring O.J. Howard probably means the Patriots would have to forfeit their 2020 first-round pick. While that’s a steep price to pay, Howard is worth the investment. There aren’t many great tight ends in today’s NFL, and Howard is one of them. Howard won’t hit free agency until after the 2021 season, assuming New England utilizes the fifth-year option on his contract, so this trade wouldn’t be a rental. Additionally, the Patriots have an abundance of draft picks and can afford to give up their first-round pick.
As of this posting, the Patriots are projected to receive 12 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, including five in the first three rounds. New England has one of the best rosters in the league and will probably pick towards the end of the first round in the upcoming draft. They have enough draft capital to give away a first-round pick for an established veteran, especially when that player is more talented than anyone who would probably be available at the end of the first.
The Patriots already have arguably the most talented roster in the league, and adding O.J. Howard would turn one of New England’s few weaknesses into a major strength. There is no such thing as being too talented, and adding Howard would only increase New England’s odds of winning consecutive championships for the first time since 2004.
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