Houshmandzadeh: “CHAMPIONSHIP”

Posted by: Shaun Dolence

So, I’ve spoken with Kennard McGuire, Houshmandzadeh’s agent, and he promised that he will no longer allow his clients to make huge decisions while I’m busy or obligated to other things. Okay, maybe that scenario is a little wishful and sarcastic. But the reason for my late post is legit … right?

Yes, the jerseys are on sale.
Uno Ocho: the jerseys are on sale.

Fortunately for 12th Man Rising, several readers commented the site to break the big news: T.J. Houshmandzadeh is going to be a Seahawk. I couldn’t be more thrilled; T.J. was a player featured (optimistically) on my free agent wish list a few weeks ago.

Since everyone is aware of the news by now, I’m going to blog about Houshmandzadeh as a player instead of breaking the story. I’ll explore what critics are saying (mostly irritated Vikings fans), and what I think he’ll add to the Seahawks.

You know my take: Houshmandzadeh is a great wide receiver who offers size, great route running ability, good football acumen, and one hell of a last name. The statistics prove his dominance, even last year, when he was catching balls from Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chad Johnson was injured most of the season. He is a very physical receiver who blocks well, uses his size effectively, and plays strong when the ball is in his hands.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, career statistics
Season Games Games Started Receptions Yards Average Touchdowns
2001 12 1 21 225 10.9 0
2002 16 5 41 492 12.0 1
2003 2 0
2004 16 13 73 978 13.4 4
2005 14 12 78 956 12.3 7
2006 14 13 90 1,081 12.0 9
2007 16 15 112 1,143 10.2 12
2008 15 15 92 904 9.8 4

So what is there to argue with? Well, go to any Minnesota Vikings message board where fans can post comments and you’ll find a handful. But here are the most relevant:

Age

T.J. Houshmandzadeh is 31 years old, and will turn 32 next September. A lot is being made of his age, but I’m not very concerned. Housh is not a speed guy, nor is he a receiver who depends solely on his athletic ability. He plays with great intelligence on the field, and depends on his superb size, route running, and hands to get an edge over the competition. Would you take a 32 year old Bobby Engram? Okay, that is what I thought.

Think of Houshmandzadeh as a Steve Largent, Jerry Rice, or even Engram type. I’m not proclaiming Houshmandzadeh a future Hall of Famer, but none of the abovementioned receivers relied heavily on their athletic ability, and all of them played very well late into their careers. Hands, intelligence, and size aren’t things that will diminish with age.

Is age really that much of a factor? Here is a list of “old” wide receivers in the NFL last season:

Player Age
Experience
Receptions Receiving Yards Touchdowns
Randy Moss 32 11 69 1,008 11
Terrell Owens 35 13 69 1,052 10
Hines Ward 32 11 81 1,043 7
Derrick Mason 35 12 80 1,037 5
Donald Driver 34 10 74 1,012 5
Isaac Bruce 36 15 61 835 7
Muhsin Muhammad 35 13 65 923 5
Steve Smith 29 8 78 1,421 6

Contract

The contract Seattle gave Houshmandzadeh has come under a lot of scrutiny, most of which is from outside of Seattle. The Seahawks gave him a five year deal worth $40 million with $15 million in guarantees. A lot of skeptics have argued that it is way too much money, or that a five year deal is outrageous for a player in their thirties.

Look at the market. Supply and demand!

I know it has been argued in Seattle before (Deion Branch), but the current market will affect the value of players, whether with a trade or a new contract. If Seattle doesn’t inflate their contract offer, Houshmandzadeh doesn’t come here. Do you think Seattle was the only NFL city hoping to see T.J. wearing their uniform next season? There are always plenty of suitors willing to overpay players; if you want to sign a top tier free agent, you are going to have to pay him.

If T.J. Houshmandzadeh plays well (and I believe he will) and is successful in Seattle, it will be money well spent.

Second Option

I can’t believe the amount of people who’ve said a comment like, “Seattle just overpaid for a number two receiver.” So just because Houshmandzadeh played alongside Chad Johnson during his tenure with the Bengals, he is a number two receiver? Seattle overpaid him?

How ridiculous. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is a starter in this league, and Seattle compensated him appropriately (given his market value). He has consistently contributed like a “number one” receiver, and his statistics don’t lie: the guy can play. If he performs in Seattle like he did in Cincinnati, then he will be worth every penny. If he is on the field producing, does it really matter which starting receiver is number one, two or even three?

Health

I’ve heard a few gripes about Houshmandzadeh’s health, but I wouldn’t consider his durability a concern. Before he was a starter in the league (playing behind Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick), he was sidelined with a hamstring injury that caused him to miss most of the 2003 season. He also had an injury to his hand in 2005 that limited his effectiveness for several games, and a recurring minor foot injury in 2006 that caused him to miss a few early games. Neither injury in 2005 or 2006 halted his production however; Housh tallied 956 and 1,081 yards in both seasons, respectively. In fact, even though he struggled with a hand injury in 2005, he only dropped three passes the entire season – good for a 2.6 dropped pass percentage, best in the NFL.

What else is everyone hearing regarding Housh? What do you think about the signing? From what I’ve read so far, the consensus seems to be positive.

Topics: Bobby Engram, Chad Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals, Deion Branch, Free Agency, Free Agent, Jerry Rice, Kennard McGuire, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle, Seattle Seahawks, Steve Largent, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Tim Ruskell, Wish List

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  • smacksaw

    TJ is not a #1 WR because he is a prototypical possession/slot WR.

    By definition, a #1 WR is a guy like Torry Holt that plays on the outside, stretches the field and goes deep. The Seahawks are confined with a pathetic system of short throws because they have no one to make the DBs play back, allowing them to stuff the run and cover the WR by playing in tight.

    You can cite all of the stats you like, but stats are worthless when they are incomplete. Here’s what you need to know about TJ. He is #3 from the very bottom of every WR in the NFL in averaging 9.8 yards per catch. He only averages 4.1 yards after the catch, so he is basically not going to break anything open.

    His career average is 11.4 YPC and 4.0 YAC.

    That is why he is not a #1 WR. Because a #1 WR catches 70 balls for 1000 yards, not 90 balls for 1000 yards. You can reassure yourself all you want, but you can’t redefine the truth to suit your opinion.

    The fact is Laveranues Coles was just signed by Cincy to replace TJ and Coles has a 4.1 YAC and a 12.8 YPC in his career, except that he signed for about $12 million less with the Bengals. If you want a winning team, you need to call ownership out when they make a mistake, not give them a reacharound.

    Matt deserves a deep threat and so do your runningbacks. Don’t get me wrong, I love TJ. I think he’s a gritty, ballsy football player. But you already have the market cornered on #2 possession WRs. You Seahawks fans should be pissed and you’re not and that’s the problem.

  • http://www.nextseasonsports.com Aaron

    Just because Cinci utilized him as a possession receiver doesn’t mean he can’t do more. I’ve seen him burn a safety for easy “bomber” touchdowns. He fits perfectly into the WCO mold and it will be tough to stop the trio of Branch, Burleson and Housh in any scenario.

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