Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ravens finalize roster, sign TJ Houshmandzadeh

Hopefully Houshmandzadeh will do his share of celebrating with the Ravens in 2010.

The Ravens trimmed down their roster to 53 players by making some moves that caught fans by surprise. The biggest surprise was the signing of former Bengals WR, TJ Houshmandzadeh.

Housh turns 34 in a few weeks, and shouldn't be counted on to put up numbers like he did in '06 or '07 when he racked up over 1,000 yards receiving. But he will bring depth to a position the Ravens have lacked for so long. And while none of the Ravens WR's are deep threats, they will bring a physical presence to the Ravens passing game.

Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, TJ Houshmandzadeh.

Sounds good, doesn't it?

To make room for Housh, the Ravens traded Mark Clayton to the St. Louis Rams for a conditional draft pick. Clayton, a former second round pick, showed flashes throughout his five year career with the Ravens, but was never healthy or consistent enough to be counted on regularly. The Ravens also cut the oft-injured Demetrius Williams.

The Ravens also traded defensive end Antwan Barnes to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 7th round pick. Barnes, a 4th round pick in 2007 had 3 sacks last year.

And the roster crunch meant that the Ravens released QB Troy Smith, who has since been picked up by the San Francisco 49ers.

Smith, a former Heisman Trophy winner and 2007 5th round pick, had a tumultuous 4-year career in Baltimore that felt longer than it really was. As the 2007 season winded down, and Kyle Boller was injured, Smith started the team's two final games, which included a blowout loss on the road to the Seahawks and a win at home against the Ben Roethlisbergerless Steelers. His play in those two games wasn't much to write home about, but it did enough to make the Ravens consider Smith for the starting job in 2008.

And we all know what happened, Boller was injured, Smith caught tonsillitis, and rookie QB Joe Flacco took the Ravens to the AFC Championship Game. Smith would see the field here and there in the next two years in a Wildcat-style offense.

Then, as the Ravens were fighting for a playoff spot late last season, word came via Smith's agent that he wanted to be traded and that he would "crawl from Baltimore". From that point on, it was only a matter of time for Smith. Earlier this summer, the Ravens signed Marc Bulger as back-up, and after Troy Smith failed to impress as he played the entire 4th preseason game this year, he was finally released.

I personally always liked Troy Smith. I felt he had a swagger that the Ravens lacked on offense, and could have become an exciting QB if given the chance. And while I am glad that history went the way it did with Flacco, I'll always wonder what Smith could have done as QB.

Maybe we will, it just won't be in Baltimore.

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