Cory's Corner: Why Not O.J. Howard?

The Packers are missing dynamic weapons at the tight end position. The former first round pick could solve those problems. 

There is always trade speculation in the NFL. 

That fire of speculation continues to burn when Green Bay’s tight end position remains murky to start the season. I’ve seen the clip of Robert Tonyan running on the sideline at Tight End University. As uplifting as it is to see that, we really don’t know how Tonyan will respond to wearing pads or how he will receive contact.

Marcedes Lewis is next on the depth chart and arguably one of the most popular Packers on the team. But he’s also 38 and will be a blocker on just about every snap this year. The same can be said about Dominique Dafney and Josiah Deguara. 

That’s why, if the Packers were to make a move for anyone, a good place to start would be O.J. Howard. He has the body and frame to be an electric and dynamic player but the main question mark for the former first round pick is injuries. Dating back to 2017, he has had ankle issues, a hamstring injury and a ruptured Achilles in 2020. 

The good news for the Packers is that the Bills only signed him to a prove-it one-year deal with a cap hit of $2.875 million. And it doesn’t look like Howard will start for Buffalo over Dawson Knox. 

It would be low risk, with the potential of being a high ceiling player. This is the perfect situation for Green Bay, because the Packers don’t like to take a lot of risks but at the same time, they need someone to be able to stretch the middle of the field. 

Howard, 27, was the first tight end off the board in 2017 at pick No. 19, which was ahead of Evan Engram (23), David Njoku (29) and Gerald Everett (44). You know that it has to drive him that in five years as a pro, he has only averaged 347 receiving yards a season. 

For a fourth or maybe even a fifth round pick, Aaron Rodgers could change that. Right now, Howard just needs to believe in himself in order to get back to the player he was when he was the top high school recruit at the tight end position, followed by a 4.51 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. 

Howard has the tools to be a quality tight end weapon in the NFL. He just needs someone to believe that he can. The Packers could always use a dynamic weapon, so why not roll the dice and see if he can make it work in an offense that is tailor made for tight ends?

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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3 points

Comments (15)

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Johnblood27's picture

June 25, 2022 at 07:08 am

Nice suggestion Corey, Howard would look good in Green and Gold.

That said, the price would have to be right and Im not sure that a 4th or 5th is right for damaged goods with very little production at the NFL level.

The GBP TE room is kinda weak if one removes the G&G glasses.

Tonyan is a one year wonder coming off of a significant injury,especially considering what his role is as a TE pass-catcher.

Lewis is a feel good story and a good-great blocker, but... there is always a but... his lack of playmaking is a factor. On each play there are 6 guys that can handle the ball counting the QB. When Lewis is on the field it allows the defense to focus elsewhere and that makes everyone elses job more difficult except on running plays. Thats just the facts of life, I like Lewis as much as the next football fan, but...

Deguara needs to become much more than a blocker and this is the year he needs to do that. He deserves a chance, but Im not sure that he will get it. MLF doesn't seem to want to use him in any playmaking roles.

There are individual strengths among the skill sets of the remaining TE's, but not an accumulation of strengths in any one player. THAT is what GB should be looking for in a TE. Having one skill guys just telegraphs to the defense what type of play is coming their way and limits the effectiveness of the offense.

I get that there aren't top flight multi-skilled TE's growing on trees out there, but if that is the case, why is MLF so fixated in getting one dimensional players onto the field in so many situations? Isnt there a better use of other skill position deployments if TE is such a vast wasteland of talent?

I was really excited to get one of any of around 6 TE in this years draft and although I love the GB draft this year, I sure wish that a TE would have been taken, maybe in place of Tom - around that spot in the draft - Three OL is nice, but 2 OL and a TE might be good too...

Howard would probably be a candidate for the majority of snaps in a MLF offense, and I believe he is better than any draft selections GB could have taken in round 4 or so this year... so... why not? cost???

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Tundraboy's picture

June 25, 2022 at 09:30 pm

I agree, the TE room is thin. This offense needs a Coffman. Did he have any grandchildren or I guess it would be great grandchildren by now?

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NickPerry's picture

June 25, 2022 at 07:22 am

Well, I think if the Packers wanted to sign Howard they would have done it before he signed with Buffalo. He signed a one-year deal this year for $3.5 million. IF the Packers really wanted an injury-prone TE for $3.5 million, they would have signed an injury-prone TE for $3.5 million then.

There was a time I would have loved to see Howard in GB...That time has passed. Let's wait and see who's cut once TC starts.

13 points
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PatrickGB's picture

June 25, 2022 at 07:26 am

Usually I ignore speculation on what player from another team we should grab. Yet this does make sense. However, my guess is that this won’t happen. As soon as another team shows interest in a player on one’s roster then that team ups the cost or pays the player more to stay. It might work on cash/cap strapped teams with an over abundance at a certain position yet I don’t see the Bills needing to do that. But, who knows? It’s nice to consider it. I am going to the Bills-Packer game and would love to see him help beat his former team.

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mrtundra's picture

June 25, 2022 at 07:38 am

What ever happened to all the "GB going after Darren Waller" talk?

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stockholder's picture

June 25, 2022 at 09:04 am

Foster Moreau might be another option.

2 points
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stockholder's picture

June 25, 2022 at 07:40 am

True he's not Jake Sternberger. But it Doesn't Add up. Sport traq= @31 OJ Howard 3,5000,000. Packers currently have: Tonyan @ # 27 3,750.000 Lewis @#36 2,960.00 Deguara @#66 1,136.942. @163 Tyler Davis 780,000 And The rest= Alize Mack 705,000 Eli Wolf 705,000 Dominique Dafney 695,000.

3 points
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murf7777's picture

June 25, 2022 at 08:00 am

No thank you for an oft injured average TE who’s production has been declining for 3 years. I don’t care if he has 4.51 speed in shorts and no pads. In the beginning of his career he looked like a rising star, than the injuries started to pile up and his stats are very pedestrian. The big risk is the injuries has robbed him of his talent.

I have no problem giving up future draft capital to win now, Ala Bucks, but not on OJ Howard.

5 points
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stockholder's picture

June 25, 2022 at 08:04 am

Gutey will wait. They're were. so many TEs drafted. Somebody will make cap room.

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Rossonero's picture

June 25, 2022 at 08:37 am

I don't know why the Bills would sign Howard and then trade him to GB just a few months later. Personally, he's not even worth the $3.5M the Bills gave him, nor the incentives up to $5M. Dude's been in the league for 5 years. He is what he is at this point. He won't break out with Dawson Knox in front of him in Buffalo unless Knox gets injured.

I will agree though that TE is the weakest link on this offense. The draft addressed WR, O-line and we're already strong at RB, but this TE class was a pretty weak one. This really is a make or break year for Deguara -- he has got to show something to prove the 3rd round pick that was invested in him was worth it.

3 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

June 26, 2022 at 07:15 pm

They probably would. I read last week that he was struggling learning the new offense. Given the length of time in the league and his lack of production there's a better than even chance he's an idiot. Big no for me. I guess if he's cut they could bring him as a warm body for vet minimum.

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Coldworld's picture

June 25, 2022 at 10:08 am

If you believe the talk that comes of Lombardi Ave., what the Packers really want is a TE who can in line block and play a valid role in the O at the same time. They also seem to believe that they will have Tonyan for all or most of the season ad a more move type TE. We have the H/F back types who are better lead type blockers. We have a professional in line specialist in Lewis.

Ideally, we need to play HBacks as HBacks and thus to their strengths, not have them fill in as traditional general purpose TEs. That in itself adds a dimension to our offensive options. We also need a TE who can be a regular target or a blocker. It certainly sounds like they think Davis can offer both of those dimensions and already he appears sound on the blocking aspect.

It could just be that the Packers like what they have in the context both of individuals and if the balance needed to restore options out of various formations. If Tonyan were to have a set back, that could change, but we may feel Lazard can do enough of the pure move type work, as he did last season, to allow others to cover the gap just as well as a Howard type.

It’s always dangerous to listen to out-of-season talking up of the potential of players not yet established, but when it’s consistent, it’s equally unwise to overlook what’s being said. In this case the general tone is that they like Davis, but also, and perhaps more tellingly here, that the biggest hole is an all round capable traditional TE. In addition, they moved early not to get another move type player for their off season roster, but a similar prospect to Davis in Mack. The signs are that they want a grader not a move type.

Personally, if I wanted a cheap flyer on a back up move type, I’d have gone with Funchess, as the Lions have, anyway. Cheaper and, based on career to date, probably better offensively. However, they have looked to players who can genuinely contribute as blockers and as a more traditional TE beyond that in the passing and running game. Perhaps a return of the illusion of complexity? That would be a big help after the departure of Adams. It may also help with the opportunities to get production from Watson early.

I’m just attempting to read the tea leaves left from actions and statements, but I think there’s enough there with respect to what Davis represents and why to discern a strategy/objective that is at odds with the writer’s assumptions. I think that there are similar tells regarding Ramsey at OLB, whom many commentators continue to overlook. Camp and health will tell much more, of course.

4 points
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Leatherhead's picture

June 25, 2022 at 11:35 am

We play about 66 snaps a game and we play about 30 or so with two TEs, so there's less than 100 snaps for the TE position. Lewis, because he's our best blocker, is on the field the most 478 snaps last year. Deguara had 367 (that's a few over 20 snaps/game) Tonyan had nearly as many snaps (306) in half a season. And the new guy, Davis, had 121.

So which of these guys would you cut to make room for Howard?

Me? I like what we've got here. These four guys have all been around for a while. If one of them gets hurt, we can still get things done on offense. This is nothing against Howard or anybody else, but Howard isn't really a substantial improvement for us. We'd have to be looking at something like stealing Hockenson from Detroit for me to get on board with that

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Stroh's picture

June 25, 2022 at 10:14 pm

Everyone in the Packers organization seems to believe Davis is the real deal. Gutey, LaFleur and the Bisachia, all brought him up without being asked or prompted, as someone who is on the verge of a breakout type season.

Why give up assets to get a player who hasn't done a thing since being drafted, when a guy at his position is on the verge of breaking out?

No chance the Packers go after Howard!! None...

2 points
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TXCHEESE's picture

June 27, 2022 at 03:57 pm

Sorry, I've had my fill of has been tight ends signing and doing absolutely nothing to prove their worth.

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