In a surprise move, the Baltimore Ravens signed former Seattle Seahawks receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh on a one-year contract.
Walker: Ravens Have Super Plans
The Ravens, who have serious Super Bowl aspirations, showed they're leaving nothing to chance by signing T.J. Houshmandzadeh, James Walker writes. Blog
Houshmandzadeh's deal is worth $855,000, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Seattle still owes Houshmandzadeh $6.15 million, meaning the receiver will make a total of $7 million this season.
To make room for Houshmandzadeh, the Ravens traded receiver Mark Clayton to the St. Louis Rams. A league source told ESPN that the Rams sent a sixth-round pick to Baltimore and got Clayton and a seventh-round pick in return.
Houshmandzadeh told USA Today that linebacker Ray Lewis recruited him to the Ravens.
"Ray said, 'If you want to win, this is the place to be,' '' Houshmandzadeh told the newspaper. "The way he is on the field is how he is off the field. Passionate. Our conversation was passionate and insightful.
"I know from competing against those guys when I was in Cincinnati how it is in Baltimore.''
Houshmandzadeh told USA Today that he chose the Ravens for a chance to win a Super Bowl.
What A Catch
The Baltimore Ravens agreed to a deal with T.J. Houshmanzadeh, who is among the NFL leaders in all wide receiver categories since 2004.
NFL Ranks by WR, Since '04
Receptions 524 2nd*
Rec. yds 5,973 12th
TD 39 10th
* -- Behind Reggie Wayne
"Baltimore was about a chance to win the ring,'' Houshmandzadeh told the newspaper. "Five or six teams have a legit shot to win a Super Bowl this year and they were one of them. Without me.
"Although I had other options and I was seriously considering those, I just couldn't pass this up. Winning is why we play sports.''
Houshmandzadeh ultimately decided to join a team in the same division as the team that drafted him -- the Cincinnati Bengals.
Houshmandzadeh now will join a stable of wide receivers that includes Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and Donte' Stallworth.
Stallworth, however, broke his foot in the preseason and is expected to return after the Ravens' bye week in late October.
Houshmandzadeh, the Seahawks' leading receiver last season, signed a $40 million, five-year deal with Seattle before the 2009 season. But he came to Seattle under a different regime with Jim Mora as coach and Tim Ruskell the general manager. Both Mora and Ruskell were gone after Seattle went 5-11 last season and replaced by new coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
Last season, Houshmandzadeh caught 79 passes for 911 yards and three touchdowns, his fewest receptions since 2005 and his fewest touchdowns since 2002.
"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," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement.
Clayton, Baltimore's 2005 first-round pick (22nd overall), leaves with a franchise-record nine 100-yard receiving games.
"Mark is a good person who did everything he could to help the Ravens on and off the field," Newsome said. "In the end, we have to do what we think is best for the team, but letting Mark go hurts. He was first class all the way, even when we met with him about the trade. This is a tough part of the business."