Bucs facing trade deadline limbo

Tampa Bay reportedly rebuffed New England’s interest in third-year tight end O.J. Howard.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard, top, is tackled by Los Angeles Rams strong safety John Johnson during the first of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Marcio Jose Sanchez  |  AP
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard, top, is tackled by Los Angeles Rams strong safety John Johnson during the first of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Marcio Jose Sanchez | AP
Published October 22
Updated October 22

TAMPA — The Bucs (2-4) entering this Sunday’s road game at Tennessee possibly trying to decide if they’re buyers or sellers as next Tuesday’s trade deadline looms.

However, one indication comes from a Sports Illustrated report that stated Tampa Bay rebuffed a call from the New England Patriots expressing trade interest in tight end O.J. Howard.

Asked about the report on Tuesday, Bucs coach Bruce Arians said it was a better question for Jason Licht, adding he hasn’t spoken with the team’s general manager about potential trades with the deadline a week away.

"It probably depends on how much you're offering," Arians said. "If it's in our best interest, we'll probably do something, but if its not, we're not giving away guys for sure."

Howard, who was poised for a breakout year entering the season, has just 13 catches through the team’s first six games, but said hearing about another team’s interest in him offered some validation while navigating through a rough season.

“It’s no secret,” Howard said. “I think I have a great talent for what I can do playing the tight end position, being a mismatch and creating opportunities. Other teams know that, and that’s where that comes from. I always felt that from Day One, that I was that type of player. ... Teams know that. The Bucs know it. So it’s one of those things it wasn’t a secret. They like players like that so I wasn’t surprised at all.”

Howard had just two receptions in the Bucs’ Week 2 loss to the Panthers in London, but it included a 30-yard gain on a screen pass, which tied his longest gain of the season. He hopes it’s a sign he will have a greater role in the team’s offense moving forward.

"It's too early, but hopefully that's the plan," Howard said. "Hopefully I'll have more opportunities to make plays. That's what I am, a playmaker, so I just need the opportunities, and I think the coaching staff is doing a great job of trying to find ways. We had a couple weeks and we'll get our game plan up and running and I'm pretty sure we'll have opportunities."

Ledbetter rejoins Bucs

The Bucs signed defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter to their practice squad, the team announced Tuesday, taking the spot of Terry Beckner, Jr., who received a four-game suspension for a failed PED test.

Ledbetter was in in camp with the Bucs this year, and made a strong early push for earning a 53-man roster spot to open the season before an ankle injury ended his preseason.

He had been waived with an injury settlement last month, then signed to the Ravens practice squad before Baltimore released him on Monday.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.



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