How Gronk Going to Tampa Bay Could Affect the Bears

by Ryan Sartori

According to NFL insider Adam Schefter, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to send a fourth-round selection in Thursday night’s draft to the New England Patriots in exchange for 4-time All-Pro Rob Gronkowski and a seventh-round pick. How does this affect the Bears search for additional competition at the tight end position?

I give you OJ Howard.

We know that the Bucs have been rumored to be shopping the former first rounder, and now that rumor makes much more sense after their acquisition of Gronkowski.

At 6’6” and 250 pounds, Howard is a GIANT target in the red zone with good speed down the field (4.51 40 time). That’s exactly the tight end Bears’ GM Ryan Pace has been looking for as a middle-of-the-field pass catcher for either Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles.

Howard hasn’t had tremendous seasons in the NFL so far. He’s only cracked the 500-yard mark once in three years, but he’s reached the end zone 12 times. Keep in mind, though, that he was trying to catch passes from Jameis Winston, and he competed for catches with Chris Goodwin and Mike Evans.

It can’t be talked about enough how bad the Bears tight end production was last year (38 catches, 459 yards, 1 TD). OJ Howard alone beats or ties all crucial receiving categories accept catches (34). Even with the addition of Jimmy Graham in free agency, OJ Howard would be a welcomed addition to the muddled mess that is the Bears’ tight end group.

If Chicago decides to acquire an additional tight end like Howard via trade instead of drafting one, they could focus on much more talented positions early in the draft. If the opportunity arises to flip one of their 6th-round selections that they have on Thursday for the former Alabama product, the Bears should pull the trigger with no hesitation.