T.J., The Saga Continues
Just as the Odell Thurman and Chris Henry stories did in 2007, the saga of T.J. Houshmandzadeh is overwhelming all other Bengals talk. The Chickster says the Bengals should let Houshmandzadeh go, though not without regrets. Kirk points out that he already turned down an offer last offseason. Over at Bengals Central, John Thornton reads the tea leaves and concludes T.J. will probably be allowed to seek his fortune. C. Trent (nice new look BTW) believes Housh is gone as well. The list of teams rumored to be interested continues to expand, with the Jaguars joining the Eagles, Seahawks, Giants and Bears.
As the inevitability of T.J.’s loss grows, so too does the fear that it will lead to Cincinnati selecting a wide receiver in the first round of the draft. And both Chris and Stripes agree with me that letting T.J. walk will only stoke the fires of an already unhappy fan base.
But in the end, I and likely many other Bengals fans could swallow — with difficulty — letting T.J. go if it meant the team would use the money and cap space to either broadly upgrade the Bengals in free agency, or perhaps go after some other big-name player on the defensive side of the ball. But as Doc warns, that’s a dubious assumption. Surely free agents aren’t going to be very interested in coming to such a forlorn franchise, and the Cincinnati front office has never shown the savvy and spending power it takes to lure a name guy. Though they did go after Antwan Odom pretty aggressively last year, essentially chasing him to the airport and hounding him until he signed, so maybe the times are a-changin’. Then again, they left $10 million in space unused last season, too.
If T.J. walks, do the Bengals go after a receiver in the first? Well, there’s an argument to be made that, irrespective of what happens with the existing WR corps, if Michael Crabtree is there, he’s best player available. But I think Andre Caldwell is the anointed successor to Houshmandzadeh. He flashed last season, but will obviously have big shoes to fill.
Should the Bengals move Chad Johnson in a trade, then I think wideout at 6 becomes a much stronger possibility (and it might be a much more palatable one as well, depending on what they get for Ocho Cinco). Head coach Marvin Lewis has been adamant about Jerome Simpson’s improving skills, but do they really rely on him after he caught just one ball for two yards last season? Please.