Bengals not likely to tag Houshmandzadeh
COMMENT: Should the Bengals use the franchise tag on T.J.?
By Carlos "Big C" Holmes
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The dark cloud looming over the Cincinnati Bengals has continued to cast a shadow over the organization this offseason, and will likely do so until after free agency when some of the cloudiness is expected to clear. However, the forecast is calling for stormy conditions when the NFL's free agency period begins Feb. 27.
The Bengals organization will be faced with some tough decisions during this time, but none tougher than deciding what to do with the team's brightest star wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who is set to hit the open market.
The team's choices are indeed limited. It's either sign the receiver to a long-term deal before the deadline, place the franchise tag on the player or lose him.
During a phone interview with Houshmandzadeh on Tuesday night, Feb. 10, he was forthcoming about his future with the Bengals and how all the talk of becoming a free agent is affecting him.
"It's not affecting me at all," he said. "We'll see what happens on the 27th and go from there. I'll have some idea when the 19th rolls around of what's going to happen. When those things come around then things will become a lot clearer."
Houshmandzadeh is currently working out in California preparing for next season and will be joined by fellow teammate Chris Henry today, Feb. 12.
There have been reports that Houshmandzadeh is unhappy with his situation in Cincinnati and is ready to distance himself from the dysfunctional family. Some things are true, some not so true. In fact, the receiver would welcome the chance to remain with the Bengals but things would have to be done the right way.
"It would be cool to remain with the Bengals because I got my start there," Houshmandzadeh said. "I'm not a person that prefers lots of change in my life, but if change has to happen, then change has to happen.
"When things like this are ongoing then obviously there are going to be some difference of opinions on your ability. That's the big thing and whatever happens, happens."
The Bengals would have to pay Houshmandzadeh $9.88 million in salary for the 2009 season if they where to slap the franchise tag on him.
"I don't want any part of the tag," he said. "The more I think about, I don't think I'll be franchised. It's a lot of money. If you franchise somebody what are you saying about the player? Obviously, you think he is that type of player, and if you think he's that type of player then you're franchising him.
"That shows you within itself that OK we think he's one of the better players and we're going to franchise him. If that's the case give him a contract like your franchising him. That's how I see it and don't see the franchise thing happening."
Houshmandzadeh was very blunt about what would take place if he is designated the team's franchise player.
"Coach Lewis made an emphasis of wanting guys at the offseason programs, on the field sessions and things of that nature. If I get franchised I'm not going to be there," he said.
"So it goes against everything that the coaches want. You can't have the coach come out and say one thing and do another. If you do, then you're not going to have the cohesiveness he said he wanted when the season ended."
Houshmandzadeh stated that some of the blame for the Bengals dismal 2008 season was placed on him and Chad Ocho Cinco by the coach for their lack of participation in voluntary offseason programs. He reiterated that things weren't going to change this offseason if he receives the tag.
Houshmandzadeh said that as a player you want to be there, but you have to do what is best for you.
It looks like déjà vu all over again for the Bengals.
Stakes are high?
As far as talks of a new contract, everything remains status quo. However, Houshmandzadeh did have a conversation with Bengals chief negotiator Troy Blackburn nearly two weeks ago, who expressed interest in possibly re-signing the receiver. Yet there has been no contact between the Bengals organization and Houshmandzadeh's agent, Kennard McGuire.
The Bengals are notorious for dragging their feet in contract negotiations. But this could turn out to be one of those cases where if you snooze, you lose.
No doubt Houshmandzadeh will draw a lot of attention on the open market and the Bengals would essentially come out as losers in this scenario.
There is more than meets the eye with Houshmandzadeh and other NFL teams know it. Many try to label the receiver as being one-dimensional by saying he's nothing more that a slot receiver.
That's far from the truth. The reason for seeing Houshmandzadeh line up in the slot as much is the inability of Ocho Cinco, Henry and others to play the position.
Houshmandzadeh has proven to be one tough hombre playing in the slot, but the team's offense has restricted him from showing off his true ability as an outside receiver.
Other teams are fully aware what Houshmandzadeh brings to the table not on the football field but in the locker room.
With the free agent period vastly approaching, Bengal fans began to ponder life without T.J. One thing is for certain, the Bengals are a worse team without him.