Tale of Two Receivers: Steve Smith and TJ Houshmandzadeh

While unlikely, the thought of the Panthers signing T.J. Houshmandzadeh is at least intriguing. To be honest I don't know much about his career other than he played with the Bengals and was Chad Ochocinco's teammate. So I went to Pro-Football-Reference.com and decided to compare his career to Steve Smith's just for kicks.

Both were drafted in 2001, although TJ is two years older. Steve Smith was draft in anticipation of returning punts and while I don't know exactly why TJ was drafted he did return punts his first few years in the league. He had a total of 12 punt returns and 10 kickoff returns in his first year and did have a better average (13.6 vs 10.7) in punt returns that year over Smith but over the next two active years Smith kept his average the same while TJ's dropped dramatically.

As a wide receiver TJ had 21 catches for 228 yards (0 TD) vs smith's 10 catches for 154 yards in 2001 (0 TD). In 2002 it was 41 receptions, 492 yards, and 1 TD for TJ compared to 54 receptions, 872 yards, and 3 TD for Smith, but TJ only started 5 games vs 14 for Smith. TJ was hurt during the 2003 season but Smith continued to improve with 88 receptions for 1110 yards and 7 TD. During their fourth year in the league the tables were turned and Smith was hurt and TJ continued to improve. He started 13 games and had 73 receptions for 978 yards and 4 TD under new QB Carson Palmer.

The next four years both receivers continued to have success.

2005       TJ  - 78 Rec, 956 yards, 7 TD                         Smith - 103 Rec, 1563 yards, 12 TD

2006       TJ - 98 rec, 1081 yards, 9 TD                         Smith - 83 Rec, 1166 yards, 8 TD

2007       TJ - 112 Rec, 1143 yards, 12 TD                   Smith - 87 Rec, 1002 yards, 7 TD

2008       TJ - 92 Rec, 904 yards, 4 TD                          Smith - 78 Rec, 1421 yards, 6 TD

Another interesting bit was in 2007 Palmer was injured for most of the season in game four and then in 2008 Delhomme was injured in game three for the season. Despite the injury to their starting QB in their respective years both receivers had great stat lines.

Finally, in 2009 TJ became a Seattle Seahawk and had 79 receptions for 911 yards and 3 TD and Smith had 65 receptions for 982 yards for 7 TD. In total TJ has 586 receptions for 6693 yards for an average of 11.4 y/r and 40 TD. Smith has 574 receptions for 8330 yards for a 14.5 y/r average and 50 TD.

TJ is not a bad receiver, in fact, he's a good receiver. He's 6' 1" and 197 lbs and has decent stats. The main problem is he's 32 and is past his prime.

In looking at James' roster prediction, I would have to agree with his WR lineup of Smith, Jarrett, LaFell, Gettis, Edwards, and Martin. After reading the ESPN report regarding TJ's contract and with so many young receivers, I really wouldn't mind giving up Jarrett for Houshmandzadeh, if TJ would sign a one year deal. It would give us another proven receiver (although older) and give a year for LaFell, Gettis, and Edwards to develop into our receiving core of the future.

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