UPDATE X: John Clayton says deals are done. However, deals doesn't mean with one particular team. On SportsCenter, around 7:20, Clayton said that three teams were still in the running; the Vikings, the Seahawks and, oh, what's that team? The Bengals. He said that there are deals essentially in place for all three teams and now it's a matter of which team Houshmandzadeh picks. Clayton says that it's likely between the Seahawks and the Vikings.
However, Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune writes:
A text message to T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s agent asking if he still expects a decision tonight was greeted with a one word response.
“No,” agent Kennard McGuire wrote.
So it looks like a decision likely won’t come until tomorrow. Houshmandzadeh is considering contract offers from the Vikings, Bengals and Seahawks. Maybe it’s one of those situations where he wants to sleep on it. Or maybe he could make up his mind tonight.
UPDATE IX: Announcement coming on Monday morning? Just so we can say we had nine updates to the original story, we wanted to point out that Judd Zulgad is referencing a recent Geoff Hobson story in which the Bengals.com beat writer says: "There were indications that Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh might not make the call until Monday morning instead of Sunday night as the Bengals wait word on the fate of their third all-time receiver."
We also think we should clarify something regarding the ESPN update. I actually didn't see it, a reader did, and we haven't reported on anything throughout this whole thing; first of all, we're not reporters -- thinking that bloggers are reporters is like the difference between a bacon cheeseburger and a veggie burger -- we're simply pointing out what others are writing and seeing. So I sat down to watch SportsCenter to see if they referred to this. They started talking about two college basketball games then an NBA game. That was followed up with Alex Rodriguez saying absolutely nothing during post-game interviews in a game in which the Reds won. They updated the missing boat story, analyzed college basketball games, interviewed C.C. Sabathia, updated Johan Santana. At this point, we got a little tired watching. So we can assume that the ESPN piece was either misleading, misstated, updated after we stopped watching, or disregarded with newer information via Hobson. The guys at the Star Tribune have a better handle on what's going on, so we'll continue to use them in the meantime.
You can see all of our running updates throughout the day after the jump (that's the hip term for saying, click on the below link to continue reading).
UPDATE VIII: Sticking around? As our roman numeral updates increase, so does the likelihood that Houshmandzadeh is signing with the Vikings. Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune writes that it "appears" Houshmandzadeh is sticking around Minnesota.
The limo that brought free agent wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh to Winter Park just departed. Houshmandzadeh spent the late morning and the afternoon meeting with the Vikings and it appears he is staying in town at this point. In other words, the car IS NOT headed right down 494 and toward the airport. Keep hitting refresh and we’ll do our best to keep you updated.
Good lord. We've been doing that ALL FRICKIN' DAY.
Won’t get into too many specifics for security purposes, but free-agent receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh is definitely going to remain in town for now. He and Vikings executives were just dropped off by the limo of which we have written so frequently today. What we don’t know is if negotiations are completed and Houshmandzadeh has agreed to terms or if talks are going to continue with the Vikings. Houshmandzadeh ended up spending about five-and-a-half hours at Winter Park today. Stay tuned and we’ll stay on it.
UPDATE VII: ESPN reports an announcement expected tonight. We got word from a reader (we think), that ESPN is reporting that a deal between the Vikings and T.J. Houshmandzadeh is expected to be announced tonight. Also, Joe Reedy writes that Houshmandzadeh is keeping his Sunday night deadline. All of this points to an agreement with the Vikings with the announcement coming sometime tonight.
UPDATE VI: Vikings are extremely confident. Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribute writes in their blog that the Vikings appear "extremely confident they can get something done." Here's a portion of that entry.
The free agent remains inside Winter Park as the Vikings continue their push to sign him before he leaves town. All indications are that the Vikings, Seahawks and Bengals are in the running for Houshmandzadeh. However, the reality of free agency is this: Once a player leaves the facility of a team which he is visiting that’s often it. That means the Seahawks might be in trouble.
All indications are that the Vikings are extremely confident they can get something done. The receiver said in a text message to the Cincinnati Enquirer on Saturday that he wanted to make a decision by tonight and it’s likely it will come down to the Vikings and Bengals.
Given the treatment Houshmandzadeh has been getting from the Vikings — a private plane ride to Minnesota, dinner at Manny’s Steakhouse, etc. — I like the Vikings chances. Today’s most important steps will be for Houshmandzadeh’s agent, Kennard McGuire, to negotiate a contract with the Vikings (it wouldn’t be surprising if the framework has been set) and for Houshmandzadeh to like what he has heard from coaches and executives about what his role would be in this offense.
If all goes well in those areas, Houshmandzadeh could be wearing a Purple jersey at a news conference as early as Monday. Stay tuned.
UPDATE V: Thornton clarifies. Bengals will play in Minnesota this year. In his latest post clarifying what he meant, John Thornton writes that if Houshmandzadeh leaves Minnesota without a deal, then it's a done deal with a west coast team. In other words, Houshmandzadeh has options and we get the impression that the Vikings have him as long as they offer him a deal -- which it seems like a matter of working out a deal.
Regardless, there's no reason to believe anymore, like this blogger dangling on a string of a National Football Post's arbitrary percentage number, that Houshmandzadeh will play for the Bengals ever again.
One interesting aspect is that the Bengals are set to play the Vikings in 2009 in the Metrodome.
And Diane Lane is a hot 44 year old chick. That is all.
UPDATE IV: Refresh, refresh, refresh. We get the impression that a deal will be announced shortly. We're sticking to our guns that we believe it's the Vikings that won out, even though our friend John Thornton had a mouse whisper to him that a west coast team won out. Either way, we're beating the heck out of our F5 key on ten different web browser instances, our emails and Daily Norseman and Field Gulls.
UPDATE III: Vikings are giving Houshmandzadeh a tour. I've had back and forth correspondences with the Vikings blogger at Daily Norseman. After I pointed out that Thornton claims a west coast team won out, Gonzo points out the following:
The Vikings will likely give him a tour of the facilities while officials discuss contract figures with his agent. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.
UPDATE II: West Coast team won out? John Thornton writes that the West Coast won out. Houshmandzadeh is expected to have his destination known soon. The only team that we know of that Houshmandzadeh visited was Seattle.
[UPDATE: Tampa Bay out. You can assume that Tampa Bay is out of the running after the Bucs signed Michael Clayton to a five-year deal worth $24 million that includes $10.5 million guaranteed. In our judgment, unless Philadelphia makes a run for him, Houshmandzadeh is between the Vikings, Seahawks and Bengals (with the Seahawks being less likely and Bengals being very unlikely).
The Vikings brass took T.J. Houshmandzadeh out to dinner at an upscale downtown restaurant (h/t Dave). The Vikings brought Houshmandzadeh out on a private jet from Seattle. In truth, the Vikings have pulled out the most stops for him, making us believe that since he's feeling the most love, that he'll sign with a place that could pay for what he believes is his market value.
I used to live in Minnesota, and was a frequent guest there for some time. I loved Minneapolis as a city (not its politics). I haven't been there in a long time, and I'm sure that many things changed. The Vikings were competitive last season, and that's all Houshmandzadeh claims to care about; at least that was his primary argument for leaving Cincinnati. In truth, I think Houshmandzadeh is falling in love with the team and city.
We're fairly confident that Houshmandzadeh, if he leaves Cincinnati, will sign with one of the three NFC teams; Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Minnesota. If we were to guess, like networks declaring political results before they're officially declared, Houshmandzadeh signs with Minnesota.
John Thornton is also receiving word that Houshmandzadeh is likely out of Cincinnati, but doesn't explain.