Wide receiver who signed with Baltimore says he could tell something had changed weeks before his departure from the team.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh arrived in Baltimore carrying a little less baggage than you might expect on his first full day as a Raven on Tuesday.
“It’s refreshing, man, to go from the situation I was in and come here,” Houshmandzadeh told reporters in Baltimore.
He signed a one-year deal that will pay him $855,000, the veteran minimum for a player of his experience. Seattle, which released him Saturday, will be responsible for paying the remaining balance of his $7 million salary that was guaranteed for 2010.
It marks an unexpectedly sudden departure from Seattle by a player the Seahawks considered themselves fortunate to sign just 18 months ago. Seattle paid him millions to come in March 2009, so why were the Seahawks willing to eat millions to have him leave even though he led the team with 79 catches last season?
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“Really, just playing the young guys,” Seattle general manager John Schneider said Monday. “We felt like there were a group of guys behind him who were ready to take a step forward. T.J.’s a good football player. He happens to be a little bit older than the other guys.”
Mike Williams and Deion Branch are expected to be the Seahawks’ starting receivers, with Deon Butler and rookie Golden Tate the top two reserves. Ben Obomanu is the fifth receiver on the roster, and he is a special-teams contributor. The five wide receivers on Seattle’s 53-man roster have a combined total of two touchdown catches last season, both by Branch.
Houshmandzadeh, who turns 33 on Sept. 26, was interviewed by phone Monday from Southern California. He said he wasn’t bitter about his departure or even that surprised. He had left training for a few days in the middle of August, and when he came, he said he felt something had changed.
“Once I left Seattle and came back, something wasn’t right,” he said. “I felt it.”
Asked specifically what changed he said nothing in terms of his repetitions or his approach.
“Maybe they felt the team could get by without me,” he said. “I’m not going to sit here and bash coach (Pete) Carroll and the Seahawks. They can answer these questions better than I can.”
Houshmandzadeh was asked if he got a fair opportunity to win a spot on the team, and he said that he felt everyone got a fair amount of repetitions.
“Do I think I got beat out?” he asked rhetorically. “Of course not. Of course not.
“The only thing that disappoints me was things didn’t work out the way I thought they would,” Houshmandzadeh said. “I came to play for coach Jim Mora, and obviously that didn’t work out.”
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.