New England Patriots Free Agency: Should They Sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh?

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IAugust 14, 2011

CLEVELAND - DECEMBER 26:  Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, #84 of the Baltimore Ravens catches a touchdown pass over defensive back Sheldon Brown, #24 of the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

There are many words that one could use to describe the thoughts that went through my mind when Boston Herald writer Ian Rapoport broke the news that the New England Patriots will work out T.J. Houshmandzadeh tomorrow.

"Perturbed" is the first one that comes to mind. Why would the Patriots sign another free-agent wide receiver? They traded for Chad Ochocinco just two weeks ago. Taylor Price is coming off a solid performance against the Jaguars in a preseason game on Thursday. Julian Edelman is expected to make strides, as well.

As you can see, they already have a logjam at the position as it is.

"Puzzled" comes to mind, as well. After all, it's uncertain whether anything's left in the tank. There's no doubt that Houshmandzadeh has been a highly productive receiver over the course of his career, 616 receptions for 7,091 yards and 43 touchdowns.

Since tying with Wes Welker for the league lead in receptions in 2007, Houshmandzadeh has seen his production dramatically decrease.

In that span, he has seen his numbers diminish from 112 receptions for 1,143 yards and 12 touchdowns in '07 to 30 receptions for 398 yards and three touchdowns in '10.

Houshmandzadeh did, however, average 13.3 yards per reception last year for the second highest total of his career—and the highest since 2004. When Joe Flacco threw the ball Houshmandzadeh's way, he did some damage. 

"Perplexed" also fits. Could the Patriots be putting one of their wide receivers on injured reserve? Brandon Tate has missed a few practices with an injury, and both Price and Julian Edelman have been off the practice field all weekend.

"Percipient" is another one. Don't look too deeply into it; it's just a workout after all. There's no guarantee that the Patriots would even sign him afterward. Matt Roth, Tommie Harris and Raheem Brock are just this year's examples of players the Patriots have worked out without closing the deal.

One word that could describe Bill Belichick, though, is "prudent." Why not work him out? After all, he's available, and could potentially contribute to the team. Taking the aforementioned injuries into consideration, it's not a bad idea to search for more possible additions in the event that an injury is worse than expected. 

ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss points out that Houshmandzadeh would project to a slot role with the team, where Edelman is currently Welker's back-up.

If the injuries to Edelman, Price and Tate are serious, signing Houshmandzadeh may be the right move. That rapport with Ochocinco could come in handy, but the complexity of the Patriots offense may make that a moot point.

Still, Price is a promising prospect but needs his opportunity to prove himself in the regular season. The untapped talent he showed on Thursday warrants that opportunity. In just five catches for 105 yards and a touchdown, Price gave Patriots fans reason to believe in the future of the receiving corps in what is largely a veteran group.

In this free-agency frenzy, the possibilities seem limitless, but sometimes it's best to set limits anyway.

Erik Frenz is the co-host of the PatsPropaganda and Frenz podcast. Follow Erik on Twitter @erikfrenz.