Long term deal between Bengals and T.J. Houshmandzadeh is unlikely (I'm super-cereal)

We honestly believe that T.J. Houshmandzadeh is as anxious as Chad Johnson to get out of Cincinnati. Unlike Chad Johnson, Houshmandzadeh is a bit coy about it. When asked about not going to the Pro Bowl, Houshmandzadeh says "That's OK. I'll go next year. I'll go next year wherever I am." Zing.

Earlier in December, Bengals (bad) owner Mike Brown was asked if they plan on bringing Houshmandzadeh back. He says, "We've talked with his people but haven't been able to reach ground that both of us accepted. It's going to be a question of money and we'll find out in the offseason if it's a deal we can make or not."

Really? A question about money? During contract negotiations? You don't say.

Even Houshmandzadeh is resigned that he likely won't be back:

"It doesn't look good right now (for coming back). But optimistically I say 50 percent, maybe 40 percent," he said. "I just figure the way things are going, there are going to be changes but that's something I don't really think about."

Brown says it's about money. Houshmandzadeh deflated his optimistic number by 10% in the same sentence. There's always the franchise tag, and we believe that if he comes back, that's the route it'll be because there's no progress towards a long-term deal. On the other hand, the team may have learned that there's been little return investing the tag on players that leave anyway -- we're also expecting Stacy Andrews to skip town.

However, there's also a growing thought that the Bengals will continue their youth development, by letting Houshmandzadeh go so Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell, both with a year under their belts, will be given more playing time. Chris Henry and Antonio Chatman are signed through 2009, due to make a base salary of $620,000 each.

And no, in my honest opinion, of the receivers signed for next season, none would be classified as third-down converting, possession receivers.

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