Monday, March 2, 2009

Housh your daddy?

UPDATE: ESPN is reporting that T.J. Houshmanzadeh has signed with the Seattle Seahawks. Which is probably not a terrible thing for the Vikings. Now we just have Jay Cutler rumors to digest...


It could be Zygi Wilf and the Minnesota Vikings. The team is reportedly very interested in free-agent Bengals WR T.J. Houshmanzadeh (referred to hereafter as "Housh"), who visited the team over the weekend. Housh's other suitors include his old team, Cincinnati, and Seattle, who might be more interested in signing a free-agent wide receiver now that Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree, widely considered a lock for the Seahawks' #4 pick, missed most of the NFL combine events with a stress fracture in his foot.

The only problem is, I'm not sure signing Housh is a great idea for the Purple.

Let's face it: Bernard Berrian is overrated and overpaid. I don't really dislike his signing, or the amount of money he's making as a Viking; we had the cap money to spend last year and desperately needed to upgrade the passing game, and Berrian does just that. All things being equal, though, he's not worth top-10 receiver money, which is what he's getting. He just became a free agent at exactly the right time and the Vikings had the wherewithal to snatch him up.

Housh is nowhere near the same kind of player as Berrian. He's three years older (turning 32 in September), slower (11.4 yards per career reception, compared to Berrian's 16.0), and has just two 1,000-yard seasons in his career. Granted, 1,000 is an arbitrary number; Housh has topped 900 yards each of his last five seasons. His average over that time is 1,012 yards per season.

But here's the thing: Housh has put up those numbers playing for a very pass-happy offense with a #1 overall pick at quarterback. Carson Palmer's first year (2004) as a Bengals' starter wasn't impressive, and the Bengals' QB situation in 2008 was a mess, but from 2005 to 2007, he averaged 4,000 yards and 29 TD passes per season. Housh did OK those three years, but didn't put up the kind of spectacular numbers you'd expect from a wide receiver in that kind of offense.

Yes, he had Chad Johnson working opposite him, racking up huge numbers, and I think Housh is fine as a #2 receiver in an offense with another established threat -- in other words, the same situation he was in with Cincinnati. He can run the underneath routes and make catches over the middle, which would be fine if he was looking for #2 receiver money. But, as the best option in a weak free-agent WR class, my guess is that Housh isn't looking for #2 money. He's probably looking for something more like what Bernard Berrian got last year, and, for a guy who's about to turn 32 and whose yards per reception have dropped every year for the past four years, I don't want the Vikings to be the team that signs him.

If they can get him for a deal similar to the one inked by Sage Rosenfels -- say, two or three years for about $4-$5 million per, I could see the deal being done. But we've already got what appears to be a decent (but likely overpaid) slow, short option over the middle, only at the tight end position (and no, I'm not talking about the recently re-signed Jim Kleinsasser). Why do we need another? I'd rather take my chances with Bobby Wade and spend money earmarked for Housh on an offensive lineman for the right side.

1 comment:

firebeard said...

Solid argument. It's refreshing to some reluctance to jump on the 'Vikings should sign Housh' band wagon. Myself, I was kind of surprised to see that the Vikes were going after him in the first place. My biggest concern was that with Wade leading the Vikes with 53 receptions, followed by Berrian with 48, and Taylor with 45 last year, how can Housh expect to come close to his average of 90 catches a year? Even by signing Sage, we're still not a pass-heavy team; I'd be uncomfortable asking Rosenfels to throw that much in a game (and for the record, I'm still pulling for T-Jack to win the starting spot outright).