Last year, the Buffalo Bills rarely ran two-tight end sets. More often than not, the team ran out with three wide receivers and just one tight end. In fact, Buffalo had just one tight end active on most game days, and he played on 76% of the team’s offensive snaps. His backup appeared on just 22% of the offensive snaps.
This year, however, the team could look to shift its personnel usage. With a new offensive coordinator in Ken Dorsey, the philosophy of the offense might change from that of Brian Daboll’s regime. A shift in talent at particular positions has led some to assume that the Bills may run fewer plays in “11” personnel and some more in “12” personnel—one running back, two tight ends.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile a former first-round draft choice at tight end looking to revive his career with the Bills.
Name: O.J. Howard
Height/Weight: 6’6” 251 lbs
Age: 27 (28 on 11/19/2022)
Acquired: Signed with Bills on 3/16/2022
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Howard signed a one-year deal with Buffalo. That contract is worth a total of $3.5 million, of which $3.195 million is guaranteed. The contract has a void year for 2023 that’s worth a total of $625,000. For the 2022 season, Howard carries a cap hit of $2.875 million.
2021 Recap: Howard returned from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in 2020 to play in all 17 games for Tampa Bay last season. He was ineffective on offense, however, as he was targeted only 21 times, making 14 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown in his second year with future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. Howard caught two passes for ten yards in the playoffs, as well, appearing in both of Tampa’s games. He appeared in a career-low 31% of the team’s offensive snaps.
Positional outlook: Howard is one of five tight ends on the roster, joining Dawson Knox, Tommy Sweeney, and Quintin Morris, who all were with the Bills last year, as well as undrafted rookie Jalen Wydermyer.
2022 Offseason: Howard is healthy and he’s appeared in all OTAs to date.
2022 Season outlook: Howard is paid like Buffalo’s TE1, but he’s going to be the team’s TE2 once the year begins. If he can eat into the snap share of Buffalo’s slot receivers like Jamison Crowder, Isaiah McKenzie, and Khalil Shakir, it’s likely that he’ll at least surpass last year’s statistical output. Coming out of college, Howard was an athletic freak whose potential didn’t match his collegiate production. He’s fought plenty of injuries as a pro, and that potential still hasn’t been reached at all.
This is a great signing on a “prove-it” deal for both the team and the player. If Howard is successful, then he could parlay it into a larger contract elsewhere next year. It also gives the Bills another dangerous weapon in a loaded offense. I’d like to see a line somewhere around 35/300/4 for the big tight end, but with a lot of mouths to feed, that may even be a little too much. In any case, Howard gives Josh Allen another solid weapon to throw to this year.