The NFL free agency period kicked off not with a bang, but with a text. T.J. Houshmandzadeh ushered in the speculation and salivation with a text message to a Philadelphia radio station reading: ““I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but if they want me, I will be an Eagle tomorrow.”
Stirring stuff. Wouldn’t it be great if all athletes clearly and publicly said where they wanted to go, the team indicated their mutual interest, and the two sides compromised on a deal? The free agency window need only last a day! But when it comes to negotiations, nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems. So let’s spend far too much time analyzing most famous text message since Chris Brown’s booty call, after the jump.
Let’s break this down clause by clause.
-”I don’t know what’s going to happen.” This means that you should feel free to ignore anything that comes after. Don’t blame him, Eagles fans, for getting your hopes up. After all, Housh isn’t psychic! And it’s certainly not like he controls his own destiny or anything.
-”If they want me.” Well of course they want him - do you think Donovan McNabb enjoys throwing to cardboard cutouts? But what this really means is “if they want me as much as the Redskins wanted Albert Haynesworth.” A much truthier phrase would be “if they pay me.”
-”I will be an Eagle tomorrow.” This is absolutely brilliant on Housh’s part. It’s tomorrow, and he’s still not an Eagle yet. Something must be wrong. The front office must not want him then? Where else will he go?
Housh has previously mentioned he’d love to go to the Eagles or Giants, and last night said on ESPN that Minnesota, Seattle, Philadelphia and New York were the cities on his list. The Vikings and Seahawks have no QBs, and Housh has suffered through too many Carson Palmer-less games to let that happen again. So if he’s not already an Eagle at this very moment, he must be leaning toward — gasp — the Giants.
The soundest strategy for a free agent is to get the fans of a potential city on his side. I know Eagles fans, and they’re already talking like T.J. has already suited up in green and white. They want him, they believe he wants them, and the only obstacle left is the front office.
So now Houshmandzadeh has all the leverage in Philly. He’s free to drive the price higher, because he and the Eagles both know the PR disaster that awaits if he gets away. The “Joe Banner let another one get away” talk radio calls from Frank in Bensalem. And the implications that he’d be willing to go to a division rival instead?
T.J. Houshmandzadeh put the Eagles over a barrel. And all with a text.