Bar set high for T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Posted by Danny O'Neil
First, get an idea of what people are expecting from the marquee free agent the Seahawks signed in the offseason. Second, and probably more importantly, to evaluate how realistic those expectations are.
Seventy catches seems to be the baseline for most people. More than 90 percent of those who voted in the poll expected Houshmandzadeh to catch at least 70 passes next season. Here's how many free-agent receivers accomplished that last year: Antonio Bryant of Tampa Bay, and ... and ... and that's it.
Turns out that's a pretty large number of receptions for any free-agent receiver to have in his first year with a new team. By my count, over the past six seasons, there have been 161 times a player caught more than 70 passes in the season. Fifteen times, the player who caught more than 70 passes was in his first season after signing with a new team. Terrell Owens and Keyshawn Johnson each accomplished that feat twice after starting with a new team.
The whole list is included below and to the right.
Forty percent of the people who responded to the poll expect Houshmandzadeh to catch between 80 and 90 passes. That has happened just six times in the previous six seasons for free agents in their first season with a team.
Of those six times, only two were older than 30 at the time: Terrell Owens was 32 when he came to Dallas in 2006 and caught 85 passes in his first season with the Cowboys. Derrick Mason went to Baltimore in 2005 at the age of 31 and caught 86 passes that season.
Mason's storyline is one the Seahawks are hoping Houshmandzadeh follows here in Seattle. Mason played eight seasons in Tennessee, Houshmandzadeh played eight seasons in Cincinnati. Mason totaled 453 catches for the Titans, Houshmandzadeh had 507 for the Bengals. Mason was 31 when he headed to Baltimore, Houshmandzadeh is 31 now.
Mason averaged 84.3 catches in his four seasons with the Ravens, finishing with more than 1,000 yards in three of those four seasons.
The flip side of the projection is Muhsin Muhammad, who played nine years in Carolina and he totaled 578 receptions before leaving for Chicago as a free agent in 2005.
Now, the comparison isn't perfect. Muhammad left after a career year. He caught 93 passes in 2004, totaled 1,405 yards and scored a career-high 16 touchdowns, the first time since 2000 he surpassed 1,000 yards receiving. The Bears signed him to a six-year deal that added up to $30 million, but Muhammad never caught more than 64 passes in his three seasons with the Bears and was gone after three seasons, eventually winding up back in Carolina.
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