Raiders Cut Former 1st-Round Pick, Re-Sign 24-Year-Old QB

oj howard

Getty Former Las Vegas Raiders TE O.J. Howard.

The roster tinkering continues for the Las Vegas Raiders. The team is releasing veteran tight end O.J. Howard just a week into training camp, per an August 1 tweet from Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Howard was signed by the team in free agency following the trade of Darren Waller to the New York Giants. He spent last season with the Houston Texans where he caught 10 passes for 145 yards. Howard originally came into the NFL as a first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2017 NFL Draft. He spent the first five years of his career in Tampa Bay and was part of the Super Bowl-winning squad in 2020.

The Raiders used a second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to add Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer and two-time Pro Bowler Austin Hooper is on the squad. They will likely be the two starting tight ends for the team. Jesper Horsted’s chances of making the roster increase with Howard getting cut. He played in 15 games for the Raiders last season and should have a strong grasp of the offense.

Las Vegas Raiders Re-Sign QB Chase Garbers

It’s unclear if the moves are related, but the decision to release O.J. Howard coincided with the signing of quarter Chase Garbers, per Vincent Bonsignore.

Garbers was recently waived on July 25 and didn’t land with another team. It didn’t take long for the Raiders to decide to bring him back. Garbers joined the team as an undrafted free agent last season and was Jarrett Stidham’s backup for the last two games of the year. He didn’t see the field but the Raiders did trust him enough to put him in a position to play if Stidham got hurt.

Las Vegas now has four quarterbacks on the roster again as Garbers joins Jimmy Garoppolo, Aidan O’Connell and Brian Hoyer.

Jimmy Garoppolo Struggles in Practice

The Raiders are transitioning from Derek Carr to Jimmy Garoppolo and there are some early growing pains. Garoppolo has never been a great deep ball thrower and was ranked 15th in the NFL at throwing the ball down the field in a June 5 column from Pro Football Focus. While that put him in the top half of the league when it comes to the deep ball, he’s struggling to connect on passes down the field in training camp, per a July 31 report from Vic Tafur of The Athletic.

“Garoppolo has struggled with the deep ball early in camp — and some critics would say it’s never been a strength — but he is coming off foot surgery and shaking off some rust,” Tafur wrote.

Not only was Garoppolo struggling on the deep ball, but the offense has also shown signs of struggle overall, per a July 31 report from Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“The Raiders defense stole the spotlight from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense during Monday’s practice,” Bonsignore wrote.

“Garoppolo struggled to find his rhythm and precision during the session, of which the third-down offense and two-minute drill were the heavy emphasis.”

Garoppolo’s struggles could be due to an improved Raiders defense but it’s difficult to know so early in training camp. Pads are coming on soon so the team should get a better idea of how things are coming along in the coming days.

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