HueJackson likes to play fast and loose.Since the death of Al Davis, the Raidersrookie head coach has swung a pair of eyebrow-raising trades, landing linebackerAaron Curry in a low-risk, high-reward deal and quarterback Carson Palmer in afranchise-altering swap that, if it works out to the Raiders advantage, will actually cost Oakland a pair of first-round draft picks.Tuesday's signing of free-agent receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, however, might bethe epitome of a high-risk, high-reward situation. And not becauseHoushmandzadeh is a diva, or a headcase wideout in the mold of Terrell Owens,Randy Moss or Chad Ochocinco. Because he's not. And not because Houshmandzadehinking a contract threatens the potential bounty of compensation picks theRaiders might receive in next year's draft. Even though it does.
Mostly, though, because his presence, and the manner in which Jackson pursuedHoushmandzadeh, could threaten the fragile balance and growing chemistrybetween the Raiders young receiving corps andtheir new quarterback. Especially if, as some have suggested, Palmer himselflobbied for a familiar target.The likes of Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy, Denarius Moore,Chaz Schilens and Derek Hagan could actually take the addition of a guy who hasnot played a down of football since January as a slight to their position groupand the work they have put in all offseason.When in fact, Murphy, Schilens or Hagan could actually face the chopping block,unless Jacksondecides to keep seven receivers.Truth is, Houshmandzadeh's resume is one the current group of pass catcherscould only dream of emulating.From 2004 through 2008, and with Palmer throwing him the ball, Houshmandzadehaveraged 89 catches, 1,012 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, including hismonster 2007 season, in which he caught an NFL-high 112 passes for 1,143 yardsand 12 TDs.Of course, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Houshmandzadeh has a history with Jackson, too, as he was his position coach in Cincinnati from 2004through 2006. In those three seasons, Houshmandzadeh caught a combined 241passes for 3,015 yards and 20 TDs.
Reached by text message early Tuesday evening, Houshmandzadeh said he was still at the Raiders' Alameda headquarters.
"In meetings tryn 2 learn offense," Houshmandzadeh texted.
Obviously, Jackson liked what he saw inTuesday's workout and feels he can bring some of that production out of the34-year-old Houshmandzadeh, who caught only 30 balls for Baltimorelast season, is still haunted by a costly drop in a playoff loss to Pittsburgh and toldScout.com he has already had four hernia surgeries.But at what cost?Financially, he's getting a prorated part of the 10-year veteran's minimum of 910,000,which should be about 482,000 for the final nine games. Not that bad a deal,really, if Houshmandzadeh, who will wear No. 84, provides Palmer with thatsecurity blanket-type comfort he could use and the offense benefits as aresult.Logistically, though, it could be counter-productive to the development of theyoung guys. And really, isn't the role of solid, possession receiver supposedto be filled by Schilens andor Hagan?Big risk, big reward. That's just the way Jacksonrolls these days.