The career of an NFL player is a fickle one, particularly for wide receivers. On par equalled by only running backs, wide receivers can suddenly go from productive weapon to afterthought, overnight. And for some reason that is exactly what happened to TJ Houshmandzadeh.
Call it “Shaun Alexander Syndrome” if you’d like, but the minute Housh signed a five year $40 million dollar deal ($15 million guaranteed) in Seattle his production dipped and he was never the same player.
For his first three years Housh was a special teams player and third WR for the Bengals. That changed in 2004 when he had a breakout season that saw him total 73 receptions for 978 yards and four TD. He became a starter and averaged 89 receptions, 1,012 yards and seven TD over the next five years, leading the NFL in receptions in 2007 (112).
In 2009 he joined Seattle after being the most sought after free agent WR in the league. Expectations were high, especially considering the Seahawks short passing scheme which should have been perfect for his style, and maybe that’s what did him in the most. Production wise, Housh had a season (79 rec, 911 yards, three TD) that was a little below his averages of the previous five years in spite of poor QB play and injuries to Matt Hasselbeck.
Surprisingly, after giving him all that guaranteed money the Seahawks cut Housh. The move made a lot more sense after his 2010 season in Baltimore which saw him only total 30 receptions, 398 yards and three TD for a Baltimore Ravens team that badly needed production at wide receiver, yet he could only crack the starting line-up for a total of three games.
And just like that-POOF- TJ Houshmandzadeh was out of the league. Three games into the 2011 season it doesn’t look like that will change. Two weeks ago, Housh tried out for the Giants who actually signed the ageless Brandon Stokley over him after the workout. OUCH. He has now rumored to be working out with former Bengal teammate Carson Palmer which just sounds completely depressing.
The rise and departure of TJ Houshmandzadeh is one of the most surprising in Bengals lore.