Buccaneers Should Demand Rights to Rob Gronkowski From Patriots in Any Trade for OJ Howard

Former New England Patriots teammates Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski
Former New England Patriots teammates Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski / Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made former first-round pick TE OJ Howard up for grabs, and the New England Patriots are very interested.

With that in mind, Tampa Bay should have more than just draft picks in mind for a potential return for the 25-year-old tight end.

While there's no indication as of yet that he wants to come out of retirement, the Bucs should insist that the rights to Rob Gronkowski be included in any deal for Howard.

Howard is not just younger, but arguably more productive at this point in his career than Gronk. Tom Brady's former teammate was hampered by injuries in the final year of his career in 2018. Despite having time to recover, there's no guarantee he'll ever be the same perennial Pro Bowler we grew accustomed to.

Still, his cohesiveness with Brady ought to be enough for the Bucs to take a chance, even if it impacts the draft capital in their return from the Pats.

Tampa Bay still has Cameron Brate under contract, so Howard is expendable. The Patriots, meanwhile, would acquire a proven young TE for cheap in exchange for a retired player who probably doesn't wanted to come back to play in New England at this juncture anyway.

It's a win-win.