Shocking. According to multiple reports, TJ Houshmandzadeh will not be a Seattle Seahawk this season. There has been talk about his vulnerability as early as the beginning of training camp, and reports of this trade/release scenario popped up as recently as yesterday. Still, it's hard to fathom.
Go back throughout NFL history, and tell me how many teams have cut their leading receiver who was guaranteed any money (let alone $7M), and ranked in the Top 10 in receptions in his conference the previous year. The year before Randy Moss was traded to NE, he caught 42 balls for 553 yards. They got a 4th round pick for him. Housh caught 79 for 911 yards last year.
I attended early training camp practices and made note of how uninvolved in the offense Housh appeared to be. He made plays in the pre-season that moved the chains. Plays that teams need to stay on the field. He does not wow you with over the top catches down the field, or breathtaking runs after the catch, but he uses his body well and is sure-handed in tight spots.
The most confusing part of all of this is that Deion Branch likely will remain on the roster and as a starter. He's been less productive over his entire career than Housh. He was less productive in pre-season. He is only guaranteed $5.3M if he makes the 53-man roster. There is very little, if anything, that Branch can do on the field that Housh can't do better. The opposite is not true. I'm far more frustrated about Branch being here than I am about Housh moving on.
The upside of all this is that we get to see Mike Williams in the starting lineup, where he belongs. I'll continue to say that he has Pro Bowl potential this season, until he proves me wrong. It also means we'll see Deon Butler as the 3rd receiver. Butler and Williams are dynamic players who will make the offense better, and probably less reliable due to inexperience. Golden Tate now gets to sniff the field as the 4th WR, which gives us another down field threat, but I don't see many 4 WR formations in our future. Lastly, look for Ben Obamanu to make the squad now. He did it again!
Some are speculating that this will lead to a renewed pursuit of Vincent Jackson. It might. More likely, it's Schneider and Carroll giving their younger, more dynamic, receivers a chance to prove themselves. The only way you get better as a team is to insert players who either were not there before, or have unknown ceilings. This gives us a chance to be better, but the risk is that we'll be worse in the near-term.
Expect some pretty stinging comments from Housh after this plays out. It will be interesting to see how Carroll handles the adversity of what will be his most controversial locker room move.