T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Ochocinco were both selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2001 NFL Draft (Chad in the second round and T.J. in the seventh) out of the same college, Oregon State. The two of them became an impressive wide receiver duo, hauling in passes from young quarterback Carson Palmer and got to be part of the first Bengals team to go to the playoffs in 15 years.
Chad and T.J. Played alongside each other until 2009, when Houshmandzadeh left Cincinnati for the Seattle Seahawks and then to the Baltimore Ravens in 2010. Considering that he spent the majority of his career as a Bengal, though, he sometimes still has insightful things to say about his former team.
In a phone conversation with National Football Post, T.J. told Aaron Wilson that he believes that it would be best for both Palmer and the Bengals if the two went separate ways and that Ochocinco will be on the team in 2011.
"As far as Carson, it looks like he's serious," Houshmandzadeh said. "A lot of things have happened that I'm sure that nobody knows about but Carson and the team where he he feel like it's not the best place for him to play anymore. We'll see what happens. I hope they do what's best for them.
"And it would be good for Carson to go someplace else and it would be good for the team. The guys on the team know he doesn't want to be there. How can you ask guys to give their all in a situation like that if he came back? It would be an awkward situation. I think it will be interesting to see what happens there."
Carson is done with the Bengals, everybody knows that. But if Palmer had some miraculous change of heart, though, it would probably be best for the team to move on anyway. Houshmandzadeh's right, players can't expect to follow a leader that doesn't even want to be there. It would be awkward and the Bengals' whole team would probably suffer from it. When T.J. said, "I hope they do what's best for them," I hope he means that he hopes they trade Palmer to a quarterback needy team like the Cardinals. That would be best for both the team and Palmer.
The Bengals moving along without Palmer isn't big news, though. What could be news is what will happen to long-time Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco when the lockout comes to an end. T.J., for one, believes Chad won't be going anywhere.
"I honestly think that Chad will stay in Cincinnati," Houshmandzadeh told National Football Post in a telephone interview. "Chad can play. He gets a little distracted from time to time, or all the time, but he can play. And they know it. He just has to stay focused. I can't see him not playing in Cincinnati. Marvin wants to win. The team wants to win, contrary to what people believe. He's going to be the best receiver there."
Yes, Chad can be distracted... all the time, but there's no question in my mind that he can be the best receiver on the Bengals team. The question is, though, if Ochocinco can keep focused enough to be successful. The team could certainly use his experience, especially considering that the next most experienced wide receiver on the team is Andre Caldwell. However, if he'd be more of a distraction to the team than he would be an asset, he should be released.
It's unclear as to whether or not Mike Brown will decide to pay Ochocinco the $6 million he's owed in 2011 or if he'll pay half that amount to let him leave. There would be positives and negatives to each side.
If the Bengals do release Ochocinco, at least Houshmandzadeh could take solace in the fact that he was half right.