Bengals To Meet With TE O.J. Howard; Deal Expected

O.J. Howard may move from one AFC contender to another. Less than 24 hours after being a Bills cut, the former first-round tight end is visiting the Bengals, Ian Rapoport of tweets.

Should Howard’s physical check out, Rapoport adds Cincinnati is expected to add him to its 53-man roster. The Bengals lost C.J. Uzomah this offseason; Howard, 27, could end up helping fill the void.

The one-year, $3.5MM deal Howard signed with the Bills translated to a fairly quick release. The Bills were using the former Buccaneers pass catcher deep into preseason games, and it became apparent the would-be Josh Allen target was not guaranteed a roster spot. As a vested veteran, Howard can pick his destination before most of the players who were Tuesday cuts. It appears he has done so, preparing to link up with Joe Burrow.

While the Bengals do not have many holes across their roster, the defending AFC champions did lose Uzomah. They replaced him with Hayden Hurst. The ex-Ravens first-rounder approached 600 receiving yards in his first Falcons year, but Kyle Pitts‘ arrival led to fewer receiving chances in 2021. Despite showing intermittent promise with the Bucs — mostly from 2017-19 — Howard is nowhere near Pitts’ level as a receiver. The 6-foot-6 target would provide an interesting complementary presence alongside Hurst, however.

Neither Howard nor Hurst topped 300 receiving yards in 2021; the Alabama product has not eclipsed 200 through the air since 2019. While a crowded tight end room featuring arguably the greatest player in the position’s history can be partially blamed for Howard falling out of favor in Tampa Bay, Howard’s Bucs star was dimming before Rob Gronkowski‘s arrival. The Bengals still look prepared to provide a third chance for the former top-20 pick.

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