The Las Vegas Raiders utilized both free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft to replace Darren Waller, their former star tight end who they traded away to the New York Giants. Their first moves came in free agency, as they added Austin Hooper, and a former first-round pick in OJ Howard.
Howard was a huge draft prospect coming out of Alabama, a guaranteed first-round talent who ended up being selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the No. 19 overall pick. However, since joining the NFL, Howard has struggled, and has never looked the part of a first-round pick at this level.
This offseason, when he was first added to the Raiders roster, it was a foregone conclusion that he would battle for the TE1 job against Hopper, but all of that changed when the team brought in Michael Mayer. From that moment on, we had a feeling Howard was on borrowed time with the organization.
Last week, we posted an article talking about some surprise cuts that could be coming for the Raiders, and Howard was one of three players we named. Mayer, Jesper Horsted, and Hooper have been having solid camps, so Howard proved to be the odd man out.
Raiders have the talent they need at tight end even without Waller
The Las Vegas Raiders may be replacing one of the better tight ends we have seen on the organization in recent memory, but they are not bereft of talent at the position group. In fact, Mayer looks every bit the part of a starting NFL tight end, even as a rookie, while Hooper and Horsted will prove to be solid depth pieces.
Overall, the fit with Howard just was not there, and by letting him go this early in camp, the Raiders actually did him a solid, as he can move on and try and make a roster somewhere else. For the Raiders, the tight end position certainly won't be a weakness in 2023.