More on T.J. and The Tag
There’s been a fair amount of buzz in Bengaldom regarding a weasel-word-filled blog post by NFL.com’s Adam Schefter. First, we get a blinding glimpse of the obvious when Schefter avers that Stacy Andrews’ knee injury “could likely mean” any use of the franchise tag is off the table for him.
Could likely mean. Gee, Adam, don’t stretch yourself too far out on that limb.
Not being a heap big NFL.com writer with a rep to maintain, I’ll happily project that the chances the Bengals franchise Andrews now are slim to none, and slim just left town.
Then we get the big prediction: “a league source said Cincinnati wouldn’t” tag T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Not will not tag him, but the more weasely “wouldn’t.” As in, will the Bengals tag Housh? “Oh, I wouldn’t think so.”
Why not? That would be the next logical question, right? But Schefter doesn’t go there. The Bengals will have plenty of cap space next year. The wideouts they drafted last April — second-rounder Jerome Simpson and third-rounder Andre Caldwell — have struggled with injury and adjusting to the NFL, and have barely seen the field. The team has shown no reluctance to use the tag to retain top free agents in the past. And with fans already in revolt over the team’s poor showing this season and seat licenses up for renewal, letting a fan favorite like Housh go would risk putting an even bigger dent in owner Mike Brown’s wallet.
Over at cincyjungle.com, kirk says the report “seems a bit limiting and doesn’t make sense.” I agree completely. What it does sound like is the same kind of “I don’t think they will tag me” comments made by Houshmandzadeh himself all season. And recall that T.J. spent all of last offseason in California, skipping all voluntary OTAs, but popping up regularly on NFL Network. Things that make you go, hmmmm.
Could the Bengals reach a long-term deal with T.J.? Of course — and I hope they do. But if not, I still fully expect the tag to be used.
Update: Color Muckraker Mike skeptical as well. He notes that there is nothing mutually exclusive about trying to reach a long-term deal, as Schefter says is the Bengals’ intent, and the use of the tag, and that saying up front they “wouldn’t” tag him dramatically decreases their leverage in any contract negotiations. Why would the Bengals do this? “Maybe it’s because they’re, you know, the Bengals,” Florio quips, but as all Bengals fans know, if there’s one area in which the Bengals excel, it’s hardball contract negotiations. Indeed, T.J. says today that neither he nor his agent have been told by the team that they won’t use the tag.