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Do you blame management for not getting Houshmandzadeh signed or are they right by letting him hit free agency?

[Note: the following is mostly a T.J. Houshmandzadeh post. If you're tired of reading about it, then scroll down to where we point out that we're done talking about it]

We know that Paul Daugherty beats the correct drum, blaming Bengals management from anything ranging to the country's economic struggles. However, we're not certain that it's fair to blame management regarding Houshmandzadeh. The known price tag for Houshmandzadeh has always been up for debate, from fans, media, whomever. Everyone accepts that Houshmandzadeh is one of the league's best #2 receivers; however it becomes muddy when he's looking for #1 money and some are admittedly not quick to jump on that. But it's believed that Houshmandzadeh is seeking $10 million a year, which we're not certain people would be willing to accept. However, I think the good point he's making is, why now? My thinking is that the Bengals knew the market would be depreciated from Houshmandzadeh's view point, allowing him to learn his market value. After that, they'd jump in.

The Bengals are making an 11th-hour run at TJ? Really? How long has the man played here? Eight years? Nine? How many years did the club know this moment was coming? They extended Chad twice.

It keeps getting lost that the Bengals have tried to extend Houshmandzadeh dating back to last off-season, reported by Adam Schefter. The division of money was always an issue, as we're clearly seeing on the market with reports that Houshmandzadeh is not seeing the amount of interest he initially believed he would get. It's not uncommon for teams to allow their free agents to hit the market, which is generally the most convincing argument that original negotiations were right based on the team -- and in many cases like Albert Haynesworth, the player. Daugherty also says that "TJ comes to work every day." Provided work doesn't mean voluntary camps because he's sour about getting underpaid two years in a row.

Houshmandzadeh is nervous, however John Thornton thinks that if the Bengals get serious, they could sign him. However, he's thrilled about the opportunity (we've referenced this piece, but failed to source it... consider it sourced). Pete Prisco says beware of Houshmandzadeh.

He's a nice player. He works hard. He's a good guy. He loves the game. But there are two things working against him:

He doesn't run that well and he will be 32 this year.

In a lean market for receivers, he's the top guy. That will push up the money to a number way too high for what he is worth.

Is he a No. 1 receiver? That's the question teams have to ask. I say he isn't. Somebody will think he is.

There is a negative number that stands out when I evaluate him. And that's yards-per-catch. Houshmandzadeh averaged 9.8 per catch last season. In the past five seasons, his per-catch average has dropped each season, going from 13.4 in 2004 to his career-low last season.

That's a player who is more complementary than star. That's why I wouldn't pay him star money.

Chad Johnson he isn't.

For a team looking for a second receiver, Houshmandzadeh would work. As a No. 1, I bring up a name from the past -- Alvin Harper, only he ran better.

Also, Prisco continues, beware of center Matt Birk. "If you doubt me, take a look at the Vikings-Eagles playoff game. Both Broderick Bunkley and Mike Patterson dominated Birk. He never blocked them. Birk no longer has the power to get people moved. He will be 33 this summer, which is also a risk. He's still a smart, heady player, but don't get caught up in the name here. This isn't the same Matt (Birk) that went to Pro Bowls."

Ryan Michael asks if Michael Crabtree could fall to the Bengals. It's an interesting point in that the Seahawks have a desperate need for receivers, even flying Houshmandzadeh out on Friday. Crabtree is generally the best receiver in the draft, and based on that theory, could fall to the Seahawks -- however, that seems unlikely if Housh signs with them. That would likely leave Crabtree available when the Bengals pick sixth.

One Man Crimewave claims bigger problems if they don't sign Houshmandzadeh, saying that the Bengals had the league's worst offense in 2008 -- how would it look without Houshmandzadeh? However, it shouldn't be forgotten that the team had the league's worst offense with Houshmandzadeh anyway. And there's no guarantee that Palmer stays healthy with their existing offensive line.


Adam Schefter broke down the positions in free agency. Laveranues Coles anyone?

Free-agent bargains include CB Ronald Bartell, S Jim Leonard, DE Chauncey Davis, DT Colin Cole and WR Nate Washington.

Albert Haynesworth signed a seven-year deal that could be worth $115 million, with $41 million guaranteed and $32 million handed out in the first 13 months. The Washington Redskins dished out $156 million to two free agents, including DeAngelo Hall's $56 million deal. Manny Ramirez rejected a one-year deal worth $25 million with a $20 million player option in 2010. In unrelated news, jobless claims in the country have gone up, which could for related reasons, create a disconnect between players and fans.