Before signing with the Seattle Seahawks during the offseason, former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh was arguably one of the best No. 2 wide receivers in all of football.
During his final four seasons with the Bengals, Houshmandzadeh hauled in 372 receptions for 4,084 yards and 32 touchdowns. He would take advantage of opposing defenses who would lack their coverage towards him considering most defenders were focused on finding ways to stop Chad Ochocinco.
One thing is certain; Houshmanzadeh loved playing for the Bengals and the fans of Cincinnati. However, he knew his desire to be a No. 1 wide receiver would never be fulfilled in Cincinnati as long as Ochocinco was there—which is part of the reason why he decided to sign with the Seahawks.
As much as the Bengals and their fans would miss Houshmandzadeh, they quickly found his replacement after signing unrestricted free-agent wide receiver Laveranues Coles—two days after Houshmandzadeh signed with the Seahawks.
Houshmandzadeh would be missed, but there was a lot of hype surrounding the signing of Coles, considering he spent the last four seasons as one of the top wideouts for the New York Jets. Last season, he caught 70 passes for 850 yards and seven touchdowns. With these types of numbers, Coles seemed to be the perfect replacement for Houshmandzadeh as a No. 2 wide receiver for Carson Palmer to throw to.
After what he's done as a No. 2 wideout the last couple of years, many wondered if the Bengals made the right move by not putting as much effort towards re-signing Houshmandzadeh.
It's easy to understand his desire to play as a No. 1 wideout, but at the same time, it's not rocket science money played another factor in his signing with the Seahawks (five-year deal worth $40 million with $15 million guaranteed).
However, with the type of start he's had with the Seahawks, do the Bengals even miss Houshmandzadeh that much or is Coles the better man for the position in Cincinnati?
Through the first three weeks of the season, Houshmanzadeh has only 14 receptions for 145 yards and zero touchdowns. Coles, on the other hand, has only hauled in eight receptions for 54 yards, but caught a touchdown pass in a 31-24 win against the Green Bay Packers in Week Two.
It's easy to look at the statistics and say both players have failed to live up to their expectations in 2009 considering neither has the type of statistics each team was hoping for at this point. However, the Bengals are the winner in this situation with Coles for a number of reasons.
Coles has been anything but a disappointment for the Bengals through the first three weeks of the season. Thanks to Ochocinco returning to his old ways as a wide receiver, the emergence of Andre Caldwell, and a strong running game from Cedric Benson, Palmer hasn't had to rely on Coles as much.
His statistics may not be as high as expected, but his performance through three weeks has been just enough for the Bengals to sit second in the AFC North with a 2-1 record.
As far as Houshmandzadeh is concerned, he is being paid a lot more than Coles—whose four-year deal is worth $28 million. Not to mention he signed with the Seahawks as their No. 1 wide receiver. This means he is the first option Matt Hasselbeck or Seneca Wallace wil look for each time the ball is snapped.
Unfortunately, the Seahawks find themselves trailing the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West with a 1-2 record. It's hard to make assumptions through just three weeks of football, but as of now, it appears the Bengals received the better end of the deal by letting Houshmandzadeh sign with the Seahawks and signing Coles.
Think about it; why wouldn't the Bengals be satisfied when they are paying for a wide receiver with a cheaper price? Not to mention they get to have their cake and eat it too by saving millions of dollars and finding ways to win football games.