What does O.J. Howard add to the Cincinnati Bengals offense?

Cincinnati Bengals, O.J. Howard (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals, O.J. Howard (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills tight end O.J. Howard plans to sign a deal with the Cincinnati Bengals after clearing waivers and passing a physical, per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. But what can he add to this team and offense as he joins the current tight end room?

Howard was a former 1st round pick out of Alabama, and a torn Achilles has limited his ability to get back to that athletic self. However, he still remains just 27 years old and is a significantly above-average blocker. And naturally, he is still very gifted in the pass-catching game; he just needs to find that rhythm again with a QB. That QB could just be Joe Burrow.

The Bengals need tight end depth, and Howard adds that. He’s a guy who is used to playing in two tight-end sets with the offensive talent surrounding him. Howard, Hurst and Sample should provide a much-needed competent tight end room for the Bengals to work with and scheme with. Howard is a very strong and tall tight end.

He stands at 6-foot-6 and has the capability to make over-the-top catches. Although, as I mentioned, he needs to show that he can still do those things. Buffalo cutting him saved them almost $3 million, so the question of why they released him could be a few different things. But the most reasonable one is that he didn’t live up to his contract numbers, and it made more financial sense to release him.

O.J. Howard brings quality depth to the Cincinnati Bengals

That doesn’t mean he can’t play in this league, though. Howard could be a system guy. He had some success in Tampa Bay with Brady. The exemplary system that puts him in a position to succeed could see the best of Howard, and that is what the Bengals are hoping happens. Hayden Hurst has had a good camp with the Bengals, so I don’t expect them to split snaps by any means.

Hurst will likely have the highest usage rate among the tight ends on the roster, but depth is very important, and Howard provides that. And once he learns the offense and understands his role, he could take this offensive team to another level in terms of natural talent on the field and ability to cause defensive matchup and coverage problems.

The current Bengals depth chart at tight end, if Howard passes his physical once he meets with the team today, would be Hayden Hurst, Drew Sample, O.J. Howard, and Mitchell Wilcox. Them instantly going after Howard on waivers shows that maybe they aren’t satisfied with the current room at the position.

Drew Sample has been underwhelming since he was drafted in the 2nd round, and Wilcox is more of a special teams threat than receiving an offensive one. This leaves Hurst to carry the bulk of the load regarding pass catchers at the position.

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C.J Uzomah carried that role very well last season, going for over 500 yards and five touchdowns, but giving Hurst that extra body capable of being a threat on the outside helps this offense and adds an extreme amount of depth. It seemed like the Bengals wanted that guy to be Thad Moss after all the reps they gave him in pre-season to have the opportunity to play that role, but he didn’t do much with it, which is the main reason they ended up releasing him on Tuesday morning.