Buccaneers pick up TE Howard's 2021 option

Tight end O.J. Howard is apparently staying in Tampa Bay for two more seasons.

The Buccaneers picked up Howard's fifth-year option for the 2021 season worth around $6 million, the team announced Wednesday.

Howard returns despite percolating rumors before the 2020 NFL Draft that he would be traded, a notion general manager Jason Licht shot down as the team acquired tight end Rob Gronkowski from the New England Patriots.

Licht said Saturday he envisions Howard and Gronkowski on the field together in an offense with a plethora of weapons at the disposal of new quarterback Tom Brady.

"Why wouldn't you want to have many weapons at that position? We have an excellent tight end group right now," Licht said.

Tampa Bay drafted Howard, 25, 19th overall in 2017, and he had 60 catches for 997 yards and 11 touchdowns across 24 games through his first two seasons. However, he scored only once in 2019, when he made 34 catches for 459 yards.

Entering the fourth year of his contract, Howard is due $1.98 million in 2020.

The Buccaneers also have tight end Cameron Brate on the roster. Brate, 28, has scored 24 touchdowns over the past four seasons, though he had just four in 2019.

Brate is entering the third year of a six-year, $40.8 million extension he signed in 2018. He is due $4.25 million in 2020.

--Field Level Media