O.J. Howard

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:

Released:

Waived:

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.

O.J. Howard On Bills’ Roster Bubble?

The Bills are likely to once again have one of the league’s most explosive passing attacks this season, in no small part due to the presence of tight end Dawson Knox. The addition of veteran O.J. Howard behind him was seen as a move which would give the team quality depth, but things have not gone according to plan during training camp. 

The former Tampa first-rounder signed a one-year deal worth up to $5MM in Buffalo at the start of free agency. The contract had the potential to help him rebuild his value after a disappointing start to his career with the Buccaneers, and represented a significant investment in a player not slated to occupy the top spot on the depth chart. After his performances in practice and the preseason so far, however, the 27-year-old’s “hold on the backup job is not secure,” according to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic (subscription required).

Howard played more snaps than any other depth options at the position during the team’s game against the Broncos, one which Knox was absent from. However, none of them came with quarterback Josh Allen or the other offensive starters on the field, a telling sign with respect to the impression he has made on the coaching staff. Buscaglia opines that his extended playing time later in the game may have been a matter of the Bills showcasing him to boost his trade stock.

The No. 19 pick in 2017, Howard has yet to record more than 34 receptions in a season. Behind Knox, he would be unlikely to eclipse that total, especially if he were to be overtaken on the depth chart by the likes of Quintin Morris or Tommy SweeneyHis usage in Buffalo’s final preseason contest could be telling with respect to his future with the team, something which appears to be far more in doubt than many would have expected during the spring.

Bills To Sign TE O.J. Howard

The Bills are making headlines. Moments have news broke that Buffalo is signing Von Miller, we’re learning that they’ve also added a notable name on the offensive side of the ball. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), the Bills are signing tight end O.J. Howard.

[RELATED: Bills To Sign Von Miller]

Howard will get a one-year, $3.5MM deal from Buffalo, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The deal could be worth up to $5MM.

The Alabama product was a first-round pick by the Buccaneers in 2017, but injuries and an uncertain depth chart kept him from reaching his full potential. Howard has had three stints to the IR during his five-year career, limiting him to only 59 career games.

2021 was one of the lone seasons when Howard was fully healthy, but despite getting an entire season with Tom Brady, he struggled to put up numbers. Howard ultimately finished the season having hauled in only 14 receptions for 135 yards and one touchdown. This was a far cry from his first three seasons in the NFL when he averaged 31 receptions and close to 500 yards per year despite averaging only 12 games.

Howard will be joining a Bills depth chart that’s led by Dawson Knox, who had a career year in 2021 (587 receiving yards, nine touchdowns). Howard will likely slide in ahead of Tommy Sweeney and Quintin Morris on the depth chart.

Tom Brady Coming Out Of Retirement, Will Rejoin Bucs

It looks like the Buccaneers’ quarterback questions have been answered for now. Get comfortable, Kyle Trask, you’ve got a bit longer to wait. After 40 days of retirement, Tom Brady has announced he will return for his 23rd season of NFL football in a tweet this evening. He announced he has unfinished business in Tampa after the team lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year to the eventual-Super Bowl Champion Rams. 

Rumors of a Brady unretirement had persisted since his February 1st announcement. Brady even hinted at the possibility of a Favre-like return, coming back just in time for training camp. The Buccaneers, on the other hand, made it very clear that they had no intention of allowing Brady to play elsewhere for the 2022 NFL Season. It turns out, they have nothing to worry about for now. Brady cited his love for his teammates in his unretirement announcement.

Some details will need to be hashed out as Brady still had four years on his contract, with all years after 2022 being voided upon his retirement. Past that, Tampa Bay has several offensive pieces set to become unrestricted free agents including center Ryan Jensen, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard, and running backs Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones II, and Giovani Bernard. If they are going to attempt another glory run, these loose ends will need to be tied up.

In response to the news, no one is more happy to see the quarterback return than Rams’ cornerback Jalen Ramsey who was set to spend eternity as the last person to have Tom Brady throw a touchdown on them. On the other hand, no one is less happy to see the quarterback return than the unfortunate big-spender who just dropped $518,000 at an auction in a bid to receive Tom Brady’s final touchdown ball. Looks like there will be many other balls getting thrown past many other defensive backs before Brady retires again.

O.J. Howard On Track To Participate In Buccaneers’ Offseason Program

O.J. Howard appears to be navigating Achilles rehab well. The fifth-year tight end is on track to participate in the Buccaneers’ offseason program, should the NFL proceed with onsite workouts this year.

Howard suffered an Achilles tear in early October of last year, but Bruce Arians confirmed the former first-round pick is close to taking a key step. While Howard should not be expected to be full-go until training camp, the fact that he has resumed running at all represents a positive development for a player who has battled some injury trouble as a pro.

He’s not running on the grass yet, but he’s really close. The last time I checked (he) was 85% body weight running in ‘AlterG’ and looks fantastic,” Arians said of Howard’s pace on a customized treadmill, via Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com. “I don’t see any setbacks. If and when we can get together in this offseason program, he’ll be ready to go.

What a huge addition to have him back because he was having a great year. I think, again, the sky’s the limit for what he can do in this offense.”

Howard seemed a better fit for Dirk Koetter‘s offense, posting 565 receiving yards in just 10 games in 2018. After recovering from knee, ankle and foot injuries, Howard did not fare as well in Arians’ first season. The Alabama alum played 14 games but was not the same kind of factor in 2019. He popped up in trade rumors, with the Bucs discussing him in a deal that would have sent then-Washington left tackle Trent Williams to Tampa. But Howard stayed. The Bucs picked up his fifth-year option, and the October injury essentially ensured it would vest. Howard, 26, is due $6MM this season.

Tampa Bay re-signed Rob Gronkowski and still has Cameron Brate on its roster. The Bucs also are working on re-signing Antonio Brown. This would make for another crowded pass-catching situation, but Howard remains in the Super Bowl champions’ plans at this point.