Raiders Sign TE O.J. Howard, DE Jordan Willis

Not long after trading away Darren Waller, the Raiders are set make an addition at the tight end position. Vegas is finalizing a deal with O.J. Howardreports Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (on Twitter). A team announcement has confirmed the move.

The veteran visited the Raiders earlier today, as first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). That meeting obviously went well, and Howard can now prepare to join his fourth career NFL team, though Vegas will only be the third he has played for in the regular season. The former first-rounder’s career has not rebounded as hoped following his Buccaneers tenure.

Howard topped 500 yards only once during his five-year stint in Tampa Bay, as the team used a number of other options at the position to supplement him in recent years. It was hoped that a change of scenery would allow him to rebuild his value, and he signed a one-year, $5MM deal with the Bills last offseason. That set him up for a high-priced backup role behind entrenched starter Dawson Knox. Howard’s Buffalo tenure did not last long, however.

The Alabama product struggled in training camp and the preseason, which left his status on the Bills’ roster in question heading towards the fall. The 28-year-old was released as part of Buffalo’s roster cutdowns in August. He wound up joining the Texans, with whom he made 10 starts and 13 total appearances in 2022. Howard made 10 catches for 145 yards and a pair of touchdowns, figures which point to him being best-suited as a backup or part of a tandem. Waller has plenty of production the team needs to replace, so this move will likely not be the last they make at the TE spot.

It likely does signal, however, that incumbent Foster Moreau will be headed elsewhere in free agency. The former fourth-rounder had a career-high 33 catches for 420 yards in 2022, but he could be headed to the NFC in the near future. Moreau recently visited the Saints, per ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter link). A deal with New Orleans would allow him to continue playing with quarterback Derek Carr.

While Howard is in place on offense, the Raiders are also making a defensive addition on Monday. Per a team announcement, defensive end Jordan Willis has been signed. The veteran has most recently seen time with the 49ers, though he didn’t start any of his 26 appearances in San Francisco. His 7.5 sacks in the Bay Area point to a level of production in a rotational role, and that is likely what awaits the 27-year-old in Vegas.

The Raiders’ offense continues to be reshaped, with Jimmy Garoppolo and Jakobi Meyers headlining the team’s additions so far on that side of the ball. While the absence of Waller will be felt, Howard will give Vegas an experienced option in their reconfigured passing attack.

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