According to the California Highway Patrol, Howard was northbound at more than 100 mph when he lost control of his BMW sedan and collided with the rear of a semi that was driving in the left lane. The car then launched into the air and crossed the center median into the southbound lanes, where it hit two other vehicles.
The driver of a Honda CR-V that was in the southbound lanes was also killed and was identified only as a 55-year-old Hayward man.
The accident was reported at 12:50 a.m.
Howard, 30, was a second-round draft pick by the Raiders in 2006 and spent five years with Oakland, leaving to sign as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons after the 2010 season.
His best year was 21007, when he had six interceptions and 77 tackles. Two of the picks were returned for touchdowns.
In five years with the Raiders, Howard had four sacks, seven interceptions and 320 tackles, as well as six forced fumbles and three recoveries. He was also credited with 25 passes defensed.
He started 15 games for the Bengals in 2011, but played just one game in 2012 before tearing his ACL during practice last September.
Howard was unsigned over the offseason, but was picked up by the Atlanta Falcons last month. He played in two games for the Falcons and was waived on Nov. 12 when Atlanta activated linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
Howard lived in Alameda, according to KTVU.com. The highway was closed until 5:30 a.m.