The Buffalo Bills signed OJ Howard to a one-year deal in free agency.
It was not always a match that was destined to be.
Having spent his entire career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Howard never made the impact that was expected of a first-round pick. Injuries and the depth chart ended up not helping him.
Upon becoming a free agent for the first time in his career, Howard was ready to find a situation that might allow him to turn things around. He revealed via WGR-550 radio that the Bills were not on that list at first.
“Originally, I had teams I was looking at and quite frankly, Buffalo wasn’t an option for me–It just, it didn’t really cross my mind, I didn’t think about it,” Howard said.
For years, this is the way many in Buffalo assumed free agents thought of the Bills. Come to Buffalo? Why?
Then the reality of the new-look Bills hit Howard.
“As the process went on, a lot of teams I wanted to go to weren’t really working out in my favor, then my agent was like, ‘Hey, Buffalo, look at this, they’re interested, let’s look at it on paper.’” Howard said. “When I knew what was on the roster and [Bills QB] Josh Allen at the helm, it was a no brainer.”
Upon reflecting on the 2021 season, Howard also recalled how he felt when his team faced the Bills. He was injured, but remembered thinking how relentless Allen played against Tampa Bay.
“I looked over at one of our guys and was like, ‘This dude is tough,’” Howard said. “That game right there showed me this team has toughness and grit.”
In terms of Howard’s personal chances at bouncing back in Buffalo, it remains to be seen how that unfolds.
He joins a tight end room with Dawson Knox who had a breakout year in 2021. It appears on paper that Knox will resume his role as the No. 1, but is there a reality where both Knox and Howard get on the field?
We’ll see in 2022–but Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane didn’t knock the idea earlier this offseason.
“Dawson did really well. Maybe [add] some depth there (at tight end) to compete with him,” Beane said. “There’s various ways to run an offense, whether you run two tight ends, whether you run five wide, whether you run two backs.”
All such decisions will come down to new Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey. That’s who Howard needs to convince he deserves more playing time.