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The phrase "low-ball offer" is why T.J. Houshmandzadeh didn't sign with the Cincinnati Bengals

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It was painfully obvious this season that the Cincinnati Bengals passing game missed T.J. Houshmandzadeh. His ability to read defenses, find gaps in the coverage gave Carson Palmer an automatic option on every pass. Houshmandzadeh was always open; either underneath on hook patterns or his patent zigzag patterns roughly at the first down marker.

When he signed with the Seattle Seahawks, earning a $40 million deal over five years with $15 million guaranteed, the Bengals found themselves with the tall order of replacing Houshmandzadeh's contributions. The hope was that Laveranues Coles and Andre Caldwell would combine, not to just make up for what Houshmandzadeh did, but to achieve much more with Caldwell showing enough promise that he could run the routes with the field awareness that Houshmandzadeh had.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh's last four seasons
Season Team Rec. Yards Avg. TDs
2009 Seattle 79 911 11.5 3
2008 Cincinnati 92 904 9.8 4
2007 Cincinnati 112 1,143 10.2 12
2006 Cincinnati 90 1,081 12.0 9

In a very real sense, Coles and Caldwell replicated Houshmandzadeh's average during the last three seasons he was with Cincinnati -- the best three-game stretch in T.J.'s career -- as shown in the following chart.

  Rec. Yards Avg. TDs 1st Downs
Houshmandzadeh 98 1,043 10.6 8 60
Caldwell/Coles 94 946 10.1 8 58

Other than the argument that Carson Palmer needs help from his receivers if this passing game is to ever get off the ground again, comparisons involving T.J. Houshmandzadeh are pointless. So why bring it up?

Because Houshmandzadeh is talking about it, writes Chick Ludwig.

Houshmandzadeh, who spurned the Bengals and Vikings in favor of Seattle, told ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb this week that he let his personal feelings get in the way of a business decision.

Houshmandzadeh insinuated that negotiations opened with a low-ball offer from Bengals’ management. He claimed that by the time the Bengals came around with the kind of money he wanted, it was simply too late. He had already taken what he called a “screw-it mentality” and signed with the team — Seattle — that showed him the most love.

Houshmandzadeh admitted that on the surface, his decision doesn’t look like the best one. The Bengals won the AFC North while the Vikings are a win away from the Super Bowl. He then said to give it time and everything could turn out right.