Did Tom Brady’s Return Save O.J. Howard?

March 14th, 2022

“We can do it, Juice.”

Tom Brady has said through the years how much he believes in quarterback-receiver chemistry and how that evolves and grows for five years.

So it’s safe to assume Brady wants as many pass-catchers he’s familiar with as possible this season.

Enter O.J. Howard. He’s a pending free agent and Brady always seemed to like the guy he affectionately called “Juice.”

Howard blew his Achilles in October of 2020 and bounced back to play all 17 games last season. However, Howard was barely targeted on offense, just 21 times, and was a third-string tight end behind Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate.

Brate will either be a salary cap casualty or will take a major pay cut before the new NFL year officially starts on Wednesday. But what about Howard?

Maybe the Bucs cut Brate and re-sign Howard at a minimum contract plus incentives, and then hope Brate finds a cold free agency market and comes back to the Bucs on a similar deal.

Joe wrote off Howard in the absence of Brady. Now Joe’s putting Howard back on the table.

Remember, Howard is well liked and respected. His teammates voted him to the annual Ed Block Courage Award for 2021.

28 Responses to “Did Tom Brady’s Return Save O.J. Howard?”

  1. Defense Rules Says:

    Whatever Tom Brady wants, Tom Brady will get.

  2. WalkdaPlank Says:

    When Gronk was out with injury last season OJ was nowhere to be seen, which is the story of the majority of his career. Huge 1st round bust. Best catch came at a Rays game not a Bucs game.
    But was he fully healthy?–Joe

  3. sasquatch Says:

    Why? I think we can upgrade. Maybe if he’ll play for minimum.

  4. Steven007 Says:

    Anthony Auclair is also available. Good blocker and okay receiver and he would come cheaply. And knows the offense of course.

  5. Pewter Power Says:

    Healthy or not he’s just not productive or reliable he’s in that rojo class only he’s been less productive than him

  6. New England Patriots Fan Says:

    Tampa odds for NFC win +1400 Sunday, Monday favourites with Packers or ahead of packers for +425 odd win NFC championship.

    That was with just Tom and Jensen contracts.

  7. zzbucs Says:

    I know I am pretty alone on this one, but I think OJ is not used correctly…..I still think he can play …….
    And I would love to have him back……

  8. New England Patriots Fan Says:

    Add some more weapons, and a pass rusher.

    Complete the Chris long term deal, drop other caps via pay outs today, move future cap to 2023 season.

    The splash singing would be Chandler Jones 1 year deal.

  9. Sorryjackchuckiesback Says:

    I think it’s a bad idea for Tom to come back… He was starting to not look himself last year and wasn’t seeing the field quick as he used to and was missing open receivers when you watch the all 22 …. I hope he can still be a top 5 but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was ranked around 10th or so this year… Age will catch up with you quickly it’s like all of a sudden nothing feels right anymore and everything hurts the next day … I hope I’m wrong but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not the Brady we’ve come to know this year!!

  10. Mike C Says:


  11. zzbucs Says:


    Are you sure you watch the last seasons games?

    Maybe you were watching Cartoon network, even Barney!!!

    Check the stats…..and when you do, please come back and apologize!!!

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’m not sure Brady coming back helps Howard or Brate but it sure will help Gronk.

  13. Cobraboy Says:

    I would not call Howard a bust at all. He clearly showed flashed with Brady before the injury.

    I would call Howard a long rehab from about the most severe injury any athlete can have.

    A one-year “prove it” is in order.

  14. Steven007 Says:

    Sorry Jack, he didn’t accidentally lead the league in yards and touchdowns for no good reason (while keeping his interceptions at a reasonable rate). Come on man.

  15. Listnfrmafar Says:

    God I hope not.

  16. Defense Rules Says:

    Steven007 … I like Auclair too (and he’s a UFA).

    zzbucs … Agree with you that OJ wasn’t used correctly. But as Joe noted, he may not have truly been fully healthy either.

  17. PSL Bob Says:

    Joe, this article resurrects the old adage about insanity. Keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. He may be a nice guy and a great team mate, but it’s time to cut the cord on OJ

  18. Mike C Says:

    PSL Bob I was in the same boat but I agree with Joe here. OJ as a 2nd or 3rd TE and paid as such just makes sense from a continuity perspective.

  19. zzbucs Says:

    @Defense Rules

    I agree with Joe 100% on this one…..

  20. Bucsfanman Says:

    Howard has done absolutely nothing in his time here. It’s time to move on. End of story. Brady or not.

  21. Ed Says:

    Howard doesn’t have the “want to” to be a strong football player. Tight ends have to have good hands and make contested catches. He doesn’t use his body to shield off defense and too many balls go off his hands and become interceptions.

    Other than year one or two under Kotter, his game contributions are nothing.

    Easily replaceable with a free agent or draft pick. Not too hard to be better than OJ.

  22. PassingThru Says:



  23. Jason Says:

    Said it before. OJ is not a football player. He’s an athlete trying to play football.
    He’s tall Jeff Demps

  24. Brazilian fun Says:

    OJ NO.
    GRONK and Brate

  25. Joseph C Simmons Says:

    Howard is one of those guys who just doesn’t seem to have the mentality of an NFL player. He’s got absolutely freak-like raw talent, but if there’s a miscommunication to be made, a pass to be dropped, or a fumble to be made, he’s going to do it.

    Like someone said up above, he’s a lot like Rojo. Great skillset, but they overthink instead of playing hard and dominating.

    They’re both salvageable, but they’ll need a lot of coaching and patience to get their best out of them, and time is running out.

  26. Buczilla Says:

    The second and third round will have a bunch of tight ends that can come in and start for us if Gronk doesn’t resign. No Kyle Pitts this year, but a bunch of solid guys.

  27. steele Says:

    Please no. Let OJ walk. Brate is frustrating, seems to have regressed.

    TE must be upgraded, with two. And let’s not forget Gronk is injury-prone, so maybe three.

  28. Lou in srq Says:

    Call me crazy, but oj could move to slot wide out and create huge mismatches. He is 6’5″ ran a 4.5 40…a cornerback nightmare