Oakland Raiders Should Sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh to Help Develop Young Receivers

Gary BurzellCorrespondent IIIOctober 31, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 21:  T.J. Houshmandzadeh #84 of the Baltimore Ravens against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 21, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Update: The Oakland Raiders have signed T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Now I will have to learn how to spell his name.

End of update.

It is looking like the Oakland Raiders may be trying to make new quarterback Carson Palmer as comfortable as possible to help him succeed. Bill Williamson is reporting on ESPN that the Raiders have reportedly worked out veteran wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and that they will give him a physical on Tuesday.

While Houshmandzadeh's abilities have declined the past few seasons, he might still be able contribute to an NFL team if put in the right situation.

The Raiders don't really need Houshmandzadeh, but I think perhaps he could help the Raiders' young receivers get better. Other than Derek Hagan, there isn't really a veteran WR in the Raiders locker room to help the young players develop. And while Hagen is a veteran player, he hasn't had the success in the NFL that Houshmandzadeh has. Hagen can't give the same advice to a young receiver that someone who has survived both disappointment and success in the league can.

Houshmandzadeh has enjoyed great success in the NFL, and he may be someone who can pull a young player aside and help them improve as a player and as a person. Sometimes, a veteran player who has been through several seasons and has had good success in the league can also better understand how to recover from a bad game or better prepare for an important game. Houshmandzadeh may be able to help the Raiders in that area.

One problem with adding Houshmandzadeh would be making room for him on the roster. The Raiders have several young talented receivers on their roster, and many would be very hesitant to cut any of them. Of course, the Raiders wouldn't necessarily have to cut a receiver to make room for Houshmandzadeh; it could be any of a number of players who would be cut to make room for him.

One receiver that I think is expendable would be Chaz Schilens. I know, I know, so many people say he has so much talent and promise as a receiver, and if he can stay healthy he could be a good receiver in the NFL. But that is the problem with Schilens—staying healthy.

Schilens missed the game against the Chiefs with a groin injury, and he has been injured for a lot more games over the past two seasons than he has been healthy. While Schilens does have promising skills as a receiver, he hasn't really made an impact for the Raiders because he is off the field more than he is on it.

Am I saying it is time to give up on Schilens? Not necessarily. Perhaps when he gets over this injury, he will be able to stay healthy. But how many times have we said that the last few seasons, and at what point do you realize that perhaps Schilens' body just can't withstand the violence of the NFL? I don't really have the answer to that one.

I do think having a veteran WR in the locker room could really help the Raiders' young receivers. While Darrius Heyward-Bey has improved immensely due to his extremely good work ethic, imagine if he had someone with years of experience who could pull him aside and give him some pointers on running routes and on being a player in the NFL.

Jacoby Ford can be an animal on the field, especially on kick returns, and he has made some really good catches for the Raiders as a receiver. But perhaps he could use some advice from someone who has been through it all before. Perhaps that advice would make him even better.

Louis Murphy seems to be healthy now, and perhaps he can really begin to contribute. But again, perhaps a veteran WR could help his as well.

A veteran like Houshmandzadeh may be able to help develop the Raiders' young receivers with his presence in the locker room—and perhaps on the field as well. While many say Houshmandzadeh is washed up, with the Seahawks in 2009, Houshmandzadeh had 79 receptions for 911 yards. And with Baltimore last season, he had 30 receptions for 398 yards. Admittedly, his numbers with the Ravens last season were nothing to brag about, but I do think he can still contribute on the field in a limited role—especially since he has worked with Carson Palmer before.

However, it is the role he could play as a veteran NFL receiver and how he could use his vast experience to help some of the Raiders' young receivers to develop that may make it worthwhile for the Raiders to sign him.

If it doesn't cost them too much money, if they don't have to cut a valuable player to make room for him and if he would be willing to come in to help mentor and develop the Raiders' receivers, maybe the Raiders should consider signing him.