As expected, the Baltimore Ravens have pulled the sheet off the unexpected acquisition of receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who was cut on Saturday by the Seahawks.
The team announced the move today, along with the trade of former first-round receiver Mark Clayton to the Rams.
“The first things that pop out at you about T.J. are that he has been very productive and durable in his first nine years in the NFL,” G.M. Ozzie Newsome said in comments distributed by the team. “Plus, we saw him more than we wanted making a lot of plays against us. We had interest in him a year ago when he first became a free agent before he signed with Seattle.
“He’s another proven weapon for our offense — a big receiver with good hands and toughness. The one other thing that every coach and player we talked with about him indicated is that T.J. is a driven player with an excellent work ethic.”
In 2008, Houshmandzadeh caught three passes for 44 yards against the Ravens in Week One, and four for 64 in Week 13. In 2007, he caught nine for 50 yards and a touchdown in Week One, and six for 45 in Week 10. In 2006, Houshmandzadeh caught three for 66 and a touchdown in Week Nine, and 10 for 106 and a touchdown in Week 13. In 2005, he caught five for 61 in Week Nine and nine for 147 and a touchdown in Week 12. In 2004, he caught seven for 116 in Week Three and 10 for 171 and a touchdown in Week 13.
Given that Jets coach Rex Ryan was involved in all of the defenses against which Houshmandzadeh gained those yards, he could be a key weapon next Monday night when quarterback Joe Flacco is looking for an open man and Houshmandzadeh, Mark Clayton, and Anquan Boldin are running passes against the Jets.
Still, the Ravens need a legitimate deep threat to open up the shorter routes that the other receivers will be running. With Donte’ Stallworth gone for up to half of the season, it remains to be seen whether someone else will be able to stretch the field.
As to Houshmandzadeh, the only risk in signing him to a minimum-salary deal with the Seahawks picking up the difference between $855,000 and $7 million comes from Houshmandzadeh’s potential to be a pain in the butt, due to a propensity to chatter that wasn’t widely known before he left the Bengals. Then again, the Ravens have a few guys who will shut Houshmandzadeh up, if he can’t or won’t do it himself.