Laine reported "multiple teams" have approached the Buccaneers about a possible deal for Howard, who has 13 receptions for 176 yards in six games this year. The 24-year-old missed Sunday's 27-23 loss to the Tennessee Titans due to a hamstring injury.
Howard showed promise in his second season, catching 34 passes for 565 yards and five touchdowns before landing on injured reserve with foot and ankle injuries.
The MMQB's Albert Breer reported the New England Patriots had already inquired about Howard and were "told no" by the Buccaneers. Howard addressed the rumor as the team was on its bye in Week 7.
"It's no secret I feel like I have a great talent, what I can do, mismatch, playing the tight end position," he told reporters. "A lot of teams know that ... It's awesome ... I wasn't surprised at all."
For whatever reason, Howard is struggling to make an impact following the offseason switch to head coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. If the Bucs were to trade him, the obvious risk is that he flourishes in new surroundings.
Tampa Bay selected him with the 19th overall pick in the 2017 draft despite somewhat lackluster college production (114 receptions, 1,726 yards, seven touchdowns) because he fit the athletic profile of the modern-day tight end.
Howard is 6'6" and 251 pounds and ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. He also showed in 2018 he can use his physical tools to deliver tangible on-field production.
The Buccaneers would be foolish to give up on him now unless they were to receive the "substantial offer" they're apparently demanding.