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Steelers should trade their second round pick for OJ Howard

It may sound a little crazy to suggest the Steelers should trade their second round pick away.  After all, they have already dealt their first round pick away in the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade.  The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in a unique position however.  This team has placed themselves in an all-in position for the 2020 season.  With a healthy Ben Roethlisberger, and a dominant defense, the Super Bowl window is wide open.  Kevin Colbert and company need to continue to make aggressive moves in order to take advantage of their situation.  Acquiring a talented tight end like OJ Howard would go a long way to improving the Steelers chances of having a deep playoff run.

The Rumors:

There were several reports at the trade deadline last season that the Buccaneers were willing to move OJ Howard.  https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/nfl-trade-rumors-buccaneers-reportedly-open-to-trading-tight-end-o-j-howard-but-need-a-substantial-offer/

It was rumored that the Bucs were looking for a first round pick in return for Howard.  Since they were unable to get a first, Tampa Bay may be more inclined to accept a little less this off-season.  Whatever the he cost, it’s clear head coach Bruce Arians is ready to move on from Howard at this point.

The Player:

OJ Howard was drafted 19th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2017 NFL draft.  He was widely considered the best tight end in that draft class coming out of the University of Alabama.  His measurables at the draft combine were off the charts for a tight end.  Howard stood 6’6”, weighed in at 251lbs, and ran an amazing 4.51/40 yard dash.  His 40 yard dash, broad jump, 3-cone, 20 yard shuttle, and 60 yard shuttle were all in the 85th percentile or better.

Howard was well on his way to a breakout year in 2018 before injuries ended his season.  In just ten games, he managed 565 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns.  2019 proved to be a tough year for Howard, as it became clear he was not a big part of new coach Bruce Arians offense.  In his third season, he regressed to only one touchdown and 459 yards in 14 games.

The Steelers:

As we have been saying for quite some time, Vance McDonald could very well end up a cap casualty this off-season Setting the odds on Steelers players returning for 2020

 

McDonald’s injury history, and declining production make him a prime candidate to be cut.  Even with him on the roster, the Steelers have a deep need for depth at the tight end position.  The only other player currently on the roster at that position is Zach Gentry.  Pittsburgh would undoubtedly be looking to add a tight end via the draft anyway, probably with their second round pick as a matter of fact.

So this begs the question, why not use that second round pick to get a veteran tight end instead.  OJ Howard is still just 25 years old.  His cap number for 2020 would be just under $2 million, making him very affordable for the cash strapped Steelers.  Howard is just the kind of dual threat tight end the Steelers covet. He excels at both blocking and receiving, something this franchise demands from their tight ends.

In the end this should be a no-brainer for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The only real question is how much compensation would the Buccaneers require to move this player.  Since no team was willing to part with a first round pick at the deadline, it’s unlikely Tampa would get one now.  The Steelers 49th overall pick would probably be enough to get it done.  If so, they should not hesitate to make this move.  Adding a potential premiere tight end to the up and coming wide receiver group is exactly the move that could push this franchise over the top.  That, along with their top five defense, and the Steelers would be primed for a Super Bowl run.

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