Renton, WA - T.J. Houshmandzadeh signed with the Seattle Seahawks after a stressful weekend during which the top free-agent wide receiver weighed an offer from Minnesota and dismissed his former Cincinnati Bengals.
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``I never had stress in my life - until this weekend. I was waking up in the middle of the night,'' said the 31-year-old Houshmandzadeh, who caught 204 passes in the last two seasons in Cincinnati.
Seahawks president and general manager Tim Ruskell called it ``quite an ordeal.''
Seattle's top wide receiver last year was Bobby Engram with just 47 catches. The Seahawks had seven injuries at the position last season and slid from NFC West champions to 4-12.
Houshmandzadeh has had three consecutive seasons with at least 90 catches, including a league co-leading 112 in 2007, when he made his first Pro Bowl.
e history, in 2007 when Engram had 94.
Ruskell said the team hasn't ruled out retaining Engram, but that seems unlikely. Engram is 36 years old and a free agent, and Seattle refused to give him the multiyear deal he wanted last year.
Multiple reports say the contract is for five years and $40 million, with $15 million in guarantees.
Houshmandzadeh will team with Deion Branch and Nate Burleson, both of whom were injured last season, in three wide-receiver sets for new Seahawks coach Jim Mora.
Mora still remembers Houshmandzadeh tying his career high with 12 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown in Seattle's close win over Cincinnati in Week 3 of the 2007 season, when Mora was the Seahawks' defensive backs coach.
``He gives teams huge matchup problems,'' Mora said, describing the 6-foot-1, 199 pound receiver's physical play. ``And he is known as one of the finest route runners in the NFL.''
The Seahawks weren't expecting to make a big splash in free agency. And Ruskell said they expected the Bengals to keep Houshmandzadeh. He teamed with Chad Johnson to give the Bengals one of the best receiving tandems in the NFL since 2005, the season in which Cincinnati had its only winning record in the past 18 years.
The Bengals then surprised Seattle two weeks ago by not using their franchise tag on Houshmandzadeh, but on kicker Shayne Graham instead.
Houshmandzadeh said the Bengals made a late contract offer to keep him - far too late for him.
``If Cincinnati wanted, they could have had me. They wanted me, but at their convenience,'' he said.
Houshmandzadeh will wear 18 on his jersey in Seattle to match the number he wore while playing at Oregon State a decade ago. He said he picked the Seahawks because of three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the franchise's recent history of dominating its division. Minnesota's quarterback situation remains unsettled.
``I just wanted to come to a team that had a chance to win. And I think I did that,'' he said. ``I wanted to come for a team that wanted me. And I think I did that.''
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