O.J. Howard

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 11/20/23

Today’s practice squad moves:

Atlanta Falcons

  • Activated from IR: TE Parker Hesse
  • Placed on IR: RB Jacob Saylors

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Signed: QB Drew Plitt
  • Placed on IR: G Jaxson Kirkland

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

New Orleans Saints

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

With Mark Andrews sidelined for the foreseeable future, the Ravens have added some tight end depth. The team ended up opting for Scotty Washington, who got into one game with the Patriots as a rookie in 2022. The Wake Forest product was one of several tight ends to work out for Baltimore today, with the group also featuring O.J. Howard, Connor Davis, and Chris Myarick (per Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 in Houston).

While Michael Thomas recovers from a knee injury, the Saints are turning to a familiar face. Marquez Callaway is back with the Saints after bouncing around the NFL in 2023. The wideout wasn’t re-signed by the Saints following the 2022 campaign, and he’s since spent time with the Broncos and Raiders. The former UDFA spent the first three seasons of his career in New Orleans, hauling in 83 catches for 1,069 yards and seven touchdowns.

Eric Rowe has found a new home after getting cut by the Panthers practice squad back in September. Rowe earned a pair of Super Bowl rings during his three-year stint in New England, and he followed that up with a three-year stint in Miami. Rowe got into 14 games (six starts) for the Dolphins in 2022, finishing with 56 tackles and two sacks.

Raiders To Release TE O.J. Howard

For the second straight summer, O.J. Howard has seen his spell with a new team come to an abrupt end. The veteran tight end is being released by the Raiders, as noted by Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (Twitter link).

Howard joined the Raiders in March, not long after the trade which sent Darren Waller to the Giants. The latter’s departure left a pass-catching role available for Howard, but his grip on a final roster spot was always a tenuous one. The former first-rounder underwhelmed in his five years with the Buccaneers, and his career has seen him bounce around the AFC since then.

Howard joined the Bills in 2022, but his struggles during training camp and the preseason left his roster spot in serious jeopardy. Buffalo made him one of their final cuts, marking a disappointing end to his Bills tenure after landing a $5MM deal in free agency. He spent this past season with the Texans, making 10 receptions in 13 games, setting up his Raiders deal.

Vegas lost not only Waller but also Foster Moreau this offseason, despite the team’s efforts to retain the latter in free agency. Plenty of TE snaps are thus up for grabs this year, but instead of Howard the Raiders will look to their other options at the position. That includes second-round rookie Michael Mayer, who was one of the headliners of a celebrated tight class in this year’s draft. The Notre Dame product was already in line for a notable role with Howard in the fold, but his release will make that even more likely.

The Raiders also have free agent signing Austin Hooper and former UDFA Jesper Horsted available as depth options with Howard no longer in the picture. The latter will again look to latch onto a roster late in the offseason as he tries to find a long-term home, while Vegas’ new-look offense will move forward with their efforts to sort out the TE pecking order.

Bonsignore also tweets that quarterback Chase Garbers has been re-signed. The 24-year-old found himself on and off the Raiders’ practice squad last season, and he was released one week ago as part of the team’s ongoing summer moves. He will again look to earn himself either a practice squad spot in Vegas or a look from another team following roster cuts.

Contract Details: David, Eluemunor, Agholor, Howard

Here are a few contract details on deals recently reached around the league:

  • Lavonte David, LB (Buccaneers): One year, $4.5MM. The deal, according to Greg Auman of FOX Sports, is quite a complicated one. It has guaranteed money at $3.34MM, consisting of David’s signing bonus. The remainder of the contract value is a veteran league minimum salary of $1.17MM. The signing bonus is spread out over four void years that help dissipate his cap hit.
  • Nelson Agholor, WR (Ravens): One year, $3.25MM. The contract, according to Wilson, is fully guaranteed with a $2.09MM signing bonus adding to the veteran league minimum base salary of $1.17MM. There is $3MM of incentives based on playing time, playoffs, catches, yards, and touchdowns. The Ravens somewhat uncharacteristically gave Agholor a high enough value to qualify him as a seventh-round valued compensatory free agent signing. The move wipes out a sixth-round compensatory pick that Baltimore would’ve received in 2024 for the departure of tight end Josh Oliver. The team also continues to go outside their comfort zone by once again creating a contract with void years, something they had never done prior to this offseason. Agholor’s deal has four void years to spread his cap hit out over time.
  • Jermaine Eluemunor, T (Raiders): One year, $3MM. The new contract, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2, has a guaranteed amount of $2.29MM, which includes a signing bonus of $491,000 and most of Eluemunor’s base salary. The deal includes a $142,000 workout bonus and a per game active roster bonus of $30,000 for a potential season total of $510,000.
  • O.J. Howard, TE (Raiders): One year, $1.23MM. The deal, according to Wilson, includes a guaranteed amount of $451,250, consisting of a $76,250 signing bonus and $375,000 of his base salary (worth a total of $1.08MM).

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.

Contract Details: Watt, Rams, Texans

With teams preparing their cap sheets for the start of the NFL season, we’ve seen a number of front offices rework some contracts. We’ve compiled some of the recent contract maneuverings (as well as some details on recent signings and extension) below:

  • T.J. Watt, LB (Steelers): restructured contract yesterday, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The move opened $6.75MM in space for Pittsburgh. Watt inked a four-year deal worth up to $112MM (including $80MM guaranteed) last September.
  • Rob Havenstein, OT (Rams): three-year extension. The deal is worth $34.5MM, according to Rapoport (on Twitter). The extension includes $24.1MM guaranteed and offers $6MM in incentives.
  • Tyler Higbee, TE (Rams): restructured contract earlier this week, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). The team converted $4.75MM of Higbee’s base salary into a signing bonus, creating $3.8MM in space.
  • Jalen Thompson, S (Cardinals): three-year extension. The $40MM deal includes $24.5MM in guaranteed money and a $10MM signing bonus, according to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter).
  • Lane Johnson, OT and Jake Elliott, K (Eagles): restructured contracts today, according to Yates (on Twitter). The Eagles converted $5.88MM of Johnson’s base salary and $2.715MM of Elliot’s base salary into signing bonuses, creating about $6.9MM in cap space.
  • O.J. Howard, TE (Texans): one-year deal. The contract is worth $1.035MM, according to Wilson (on Twitter). The tight end will receive $910K in offset from the $1.945MM guaranteed base salary he got from his previous deal with the Bills. When coupled with the $1.25MM signing bonus he got from Buffalo, Howard will earn a total of $3.25MM this year.
  • Eric Murray, S (Texans): restructured contract yesterday, per Yates (on Twitter). Specifically, the team converted $1.465MM of his contract into a signing bonus, opening $732.5K in cap space.
  • Ka’imi Fairbairn, K and Cameron Johnston, P (Texans): restructured contracts earlier this week, per Wilson (on Twitter). The two moves saved the Texans $2.1MM in cap savings.

Bengals Make Three Waiver Claims

SEPTEMBER 2: To no surprise, the Bengals are indeed re-signing Allen, Thomas and Williams now that they have the open roster spots to do so, per a team announcement. Cincinnati is also placing safety Tycen Anderson and tackle Isaiah Prince on IR.

AUGUST 31: The Bengals have made some notable additions in the aftermath of yesterday’s roster cutdowns. Per the waiver wire, they have claimed tight end Devin Asiasiguard Max Scharping and defensive tackle Jay Tufele.

[RELATED: Bengals Expected To Sign TE Howard]

Asiasi came to New England with significant expectations, given his draft status and the organization’s success at the position. The third-rounder made just 10 appearances in his first two seasons, though, recording only a pair of receptions. The Patriots made a substantial free agent investment in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith last offseason, limiting his future with the team. In Cincinnati, he will face steep competition for playing time from Hayden Hurst and, in all likelihood, O.J. Howard.

Scharping is in a similar situation to Asiasi in terms of being an underwhelming high draft choice yet to finish their rookie contract. A 2019 second-rounder, the 26-year-old started 33 of the 48 contests he appeared in with the Texans, moving from the left to right guard spot this past season. Regardless of where he lined up, the Northern Illinois alum graded out in the mid-to-high 50s with respect to PFF rating, leaving him on the roster bubble. Scharping’s vacated spot is likely to be filled by A.J. Cann; he will challenge for a backup role behind top free agent addition Alex Cappa with the Bengals.

Tufele, meanwhile, has seen the least playing time of the new trio. As a rookie last season, he made just four appearances in Jacksonville, totaling two tackles. His PFF pass rush grade of 77 indicates some upside on third downs, which dates back to his time in college. Moving on from the USC alum so soon may have come as a surprise, though the additions of Folorunso Fatukasi and Adam Gotsis along the d-line were likely to significantly lessen his chance of seeing significant playing time with the Jaguars. The Bengals lost Larry Ogunjobi in free agency, but re-upped B.J. Hill, whom Tufele will look to provide depth behind his new home.

The defending AFC champions will return many of the members of last season’s team, but these additions could prove effective at areas of relative need. Among the cuts necessary to accommodate the new arrivals is veteran quarterback Brandon Allen. The 29-year-old signed a one-year deal for the third consecutive offseason to remain in Cincinnati.

For now, Allen’s departure leaves the Bengals with only Joe Burrow under center. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweets, however, that Allen “will be back.” Cincinnati is also parting ways with safety Michael Thomas and running back Trayveon Williams.

Texans To Sign TE O.J. Howard

4:53pm: The Texans and Howard have struck a deal, according to ProFootballNetwork.com’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter). The former Buccaneers first-rounder will become by far the most experienced tight end on the Texans’ active roster.

3:04pm: O.J. Howard‘s Bengals visit has not produced an agreement yet, and the defending AFC champions added a tight end (Devin Asiasi) via waivers on the same day they met with Howard. The former first-round pick remains in search of a third NFL team.

The Texans are looking into adding the former Buccaneers and Bills pass catcher. The rebuilding AFC South team is meeting with Howard on Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The sixth-year tight end is taking a physical at Texans headquarters.

While this sounds similar to the Howard-Cincinnati development, the Texans are thinner at tight end. The team used the waiver wire to add a Davis Mills complementary weapon (ex-Howard teammate Tyler Johnson). Now, a late free agency addition may further boost the second-year quarterback’s receiving corps.

If Howard signs in Houston, he will join Jordan Akins among tight ends to join the team. Though, the former Texans tight end is back on a practice squad agreement. Those now regularly turn into elevations to the 53-man roster, but the Texans still feature an uncertain crop at this spot.

Houston let Akins depart in free agency and re-signed Pharaoh Brown. Midway through training camp, Lovie Smith took the step to declare the veteran the team’s starter. Brown, however, has never topped 200 receiving yards in a season. The team also has 2021 fifth-rounder Brevin Jordan and rookie fifth-rounder Teagan Quitoriano. The latter, however, will miss at least four games after being placed on IR this week.

The No. 19 overall pick in 2017, Howard was faring decently with the Bucs during his first two seasons (997 combined receiving yards, 11 TDs). But he never seemed to catch on under Bruce Arians. After Tom Brady‘s Tampa arrival preceded a Rob Gronkowski reunion, Howard became an afterthought in the Bucs’ offense. Following a 2020 Achilles rupture, Howard did not regain much of a role in the team’s passing game. Howard played 17 games but only totaled 135 receiving yards and one touchdown. The Bills did not see enough from a player they guaranteed $3.5MM in training camp, leading him to this spot.

But the Texans would appear to offer a chance for Howard, 27, to re-establish the form he displayed in Dirk Koetter‘s offense years ago. (Although Koetter worked under Smith in Tampa, the current Texans HC was gone by the time Howard arrived.) Will this lead to a deal? Houston’s attempt to acquire Adam Shaheen in a trade from Miami failed, but it still looks like the rebuilding team’s position could use bolstering — for Mills’ sake, if nothing else.

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 NFL.com 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.

Bills Set 53-Man Roster

After waiving six players yesterday, the Bills cut 18 more players today to get themselves down to the 53-man roster limit:



Placed on reserve/PUP:

Placed on reserve/suspended:

We heard about some of Buffalo’s bigger moves earlier today, including the release of O.J. Howard and Duke Johnson. Greg Mancz is one of the most experienced players to get cut, with the veteran having appeared in 63 games across seven NFL seasons. His positional versatility was expected to land him a roster spot as a backup offensive lineman, but the team ultimately opted for a younger option. Mancz certainly didn’t help his case when he missed the preseason finale while recovering from a foot injury suffered during practice.

Tanner Gentry and Alec Anderson are both candidates to return to Buffalo via the practice squad. Gentry has bounced on and off the Bills roster over the previous two seasons without getting into a game. Anderson started 10 games at UCLA last year before landing with the Bills as an undrafted rookie.

Matt Barkley has spent the past four seasons in Buffalo. He got into eight games with the Bills between 2018 and 2020, completing 53 of his 97 pass attempts for 788 yards, three touchdowns, and four interceptions. He was demoted to QB3 in 2021 following the acquisition of Mitchell Trubisky, and Barkley didn’t end up seeing the field last year. He was eyeing a similar role in 2022 with Case Keenum now serving as Josh Allen‘s primary backup.

Bills To Release O.J. Howard, Duke Johnson

The list of notable names being released continues to grow. The Bills are parting ways with veteran tight end O.J. Howard, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). In a separate tweet, he also confirms that running back Duke Johnson is being released. 

Neither moves comes as a complete surprise given recent developments. Howard had put forth underwhelming performances in training camp and the preseason; the fact that he was receiving a large workload with the team’s backups and third-stringers led to speculation last week that he could be on the outside looking in during roster cuts. Given the maximum value of the one-year deal Howard signed in Buffalo ($5MM), a trade always seemed unlikely in this situation.

The former first-rounder spent five seasons with the Buccaneers, putting up consistent numbers during his first three years. His career-high of 34 catches and 565 yards has never been improved upon, however, leading to his departure in free agency and arrival in Buffalo as a backup to Dawson Knox.

The move points to Quintin Morris and Tommy Sweeney taking on larger roles as rotational players behind Knox. Howard, meanwhile, will need to quickly find a new landing spot, where a depth role (and, presumably, a much less lucrative deal) will again be the target. Buffalo will save $2.25MM by releasing him.

The situation is different for Johnson. As Schefter notes, the Bills are eyeing a return for the veteran on their practice squad if he declines to sign elsewhere. The team has been projected to use a three-man committee of Devin Singletary, Zack Moss and second-round rookie James Cook. That trio, not to mention QB Josh Allen, left a rather narrow path to the 53-man squad for Johnson.

The 28-year-old began his career in Cleveland, where he posted 1,000 scrimmage yards for the first (and only) time in 2017. He has since played in Houston and, beginning late last season, Miami. With a 4.6 yards per carry average during the latter stop, he demonstrated value as at least a quality backup – something he is more likely to become elsewhere. As a vested veteran, he is not subject to waivers and can sign anywhere in free agency.