Former Bills TE Expected to Join AFC Rival After Surprise Release

O.J. Howard

Getty O.J. Howard makes a catch during Buffalo Bills minicamp.

After his surprise release on Tuesday, tight end O.J. Howard appears to be moving on to a rival of the Buffalo Bills.

Howard joined the Bills this offseason as one of the team’s most high-profile free agency acquisitions but failed to make the team’s final 53-man roster after an uneven training camp and preseason. Howard isn’t expected to stay on the open market long, with reports that he is joining a team that could be a top AFC rival to the Bills and potentially the chief roadblock to Buffalo making the Super Bowl.

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Howard Signing Soon

After Howard was named as part of Buffalo’s final cuts on August 30, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Wednesday that he was visiting the Cincinnati Bengals and expected to sign in short order.

“That was fast: The #Bengals are hosting FA TE OJ Howard on a visit today and assuming all goes well with the physical, he’s expected to sign, source said,” Rapoport tweeted. “The former first-rounder was a surprising cut yesterday and this should come together today.”

As Kevin Patra of the NFL Network noted, Howard has the chance to fill an important need for the team that reached the Super Bowl last season.

“If healthy, Howard could carve out a role in Joe Burrow’s offense,” Patra reported. “The Bengals shuffled their TE room this offseason after losing C.J. Uzomah to the New York Jets. Cincy signed another former first-rounder in Hayden Hurst in March, who sits as the top tight end and should remain the starter. Cincy also currently has Drew Sample and Mitchell Wilcox in the TE room.”

If all goes well with Howard’s physical and he does sign with Cincinnati, he would be in line for a reunion with his now-former teammates. The Bills travel to Cincinnati for a Week 17 Monday Night Football game.

Howard’s Release Makes Way for Young Standout

After a relatively low-key preseason in Buffalo with few active roster battles, Howard’s release came as a surprise to many insiders who believed he was locked in to the final roster. Howard had been slated in at tight end alongside Dawson Knox, but the Bills instead showed faith in second-year right end Quintin Morris, who spent his rookie season on the practice squad. Morris had a strong preseason, both as a member of the offense and playing across all special teams units.

Morris also told the Bills’ official website that he worked also hard this offseason to improve his blocking and become a more complete tight end.

“Just showing that I could be a complete tight end and not just go out there, knowing I have a receiver background and being able to run routes, but going out there and be able to take care of the physical piece of it,” Morris said. “Put two and two together to be a complete tight end.”

The 23-year-old tight end added that he was nervous throughout the day on Tuesday while he waited to learn whether he made the final 53-man roster.

Morris learned not only that he made the roster, but that the team updated the nameplate in his locker that had been misspelled for the entirety of the preseason.

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