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Hobson's Choice: No Horn aplenty?

Q: With the current status of our receivers, what are the possibilities of signing Joe Horn?
--Doug, Las Vegas, NV

DOUG: Can't see it. With so much money already dumped in the offense and two Pro Bowl receivers still expected to play, they're not going to put another veteran salary on the Opening Day roster that is guaranteed for the entire season.

And while we're talking receivers, how about the buzz that T.J. is sandbagging his hamstring injury because of his contract?

It's OK to speculate about a player move or contract number or something.

But isn't guessing about a person's integrity merely on gut instinct strike you as irresponsible? Gee, it sure looks like Barack Obama is a Muslim and his middle name is....

It seems to me his bid to stay healthy helps the team as much as his contract run. He knows it's not going to help his cause in the market to be sitting on the bench because he came back too soon. But won't that hurt the team, too? You know how deep this team is in the dumpster if he misses the first six games? The two don't seem mutually exclusive. He knows his marketability would be a hell of a lot better if he was sharp from practice.

Yeah, he's in the last year of his deal. Yeah, he's coming back slowly from his injury. But two and two makes five here, I think.

After Sunday's game I grabbed him for a few minutes and asked him exactly that.

Does the slow progress with the injury have anything to do with the fact that talks for a contract extension seem non-existent?

I believe him when he says, "No."

He's been above board about the deal, which is up after this season. Whenever asked, whether it was last year after his first 1,000-yard season, or this year after his first Pro Bowl, he has stuck to the script.

"Doesn't matter. If it happens, it happens."

Yes, he admitted, it's a big year for him for a lot of reasons, a contract year and all that, but he'd be just as cautious if he had two years left simply because he knows what happens when you try to come back too early.

Yeah, T.J. looked good running on the sidelines Sunday when I was down there before the game. But when he asked me after the game if I thought he was full speed, I said it looked close but it still looked like he was being careful. That's when he gave me the 80 percent figure.

He keeps invoking 2003. He kept trying to come back at less than 100 percent after injuring the hammy in training camp and all he succeeded in doing was almost getting cut. It was never right and he only played in two games.

Another thing that surfaced late last week had an impact. Houshmandzadeh saw running back Rudi Johnson come back for two days, tweak his hammy again, and, boom, he's missed another week.

I think what's at work here is 2003 and Rudi. I don't think T.J. is staging a protest. I think he's trying not to repeat history.

Plus, a 25-catch season blows up both the team and the player. Makes no sense.

As for Horn, if they're trying to get their arms around how much to pay a receiver like Houshmandzadeh who turns 32 in 13 months, you figure they're going to spend little time on a guy that turns 37 in January.

Q: I suppose that we are just at an impasse when it comes to judging this team. Not judging Carson because we CAN'T RUN THE BALL. Geoff, you really need to make it clear to your audience that you do not view him as a top five quarterback in the NFL. If you did, you would not constantly talk about his necessary running game. He is either in the Peyton, Brady, Romo, class or he is not. You write as if he is a game manager that needs other people to make plays. Well, we pay him as well as Peyton and Brady and we should expect him to be able to dominate games with his arm even if his WRs or RBs are out. It seems like you always look for these things we need to add to our offense. We have more weapons than any other team. We are best able to withstand injuries to anywhere in our offense. Please, just come out and say you doubt his talent, because you can't keep not holding him responsible AND contend he is a great QB. It's one or the other.
--Anthony R., Cincinnati, OH

ANTHONY: I don't doubt his talent. I doubt any quarterback's ability to dominate a game when he's got the 24th-ranked run game and the 27th-ranked defense. That's not exactly a recipe for elite quarterback play. I would argue last year's career-low 86.7 passer rating is elite in those circumstances. To me, only a Top 5 QB could have delivered those numbers.

I'm not saying he had a Top 5 year last year. He made some bad throws. Too many picks. No question about it. But I also think this Carson bashing is ludicrous. Anybody who saw what he did in '05 and '06 knows he can take this team to the next level with a little help.

That Christmas Eve game in '06 in Denver should have been his validation by securing his second straight playoff berth. He riddled the Broncos and dominated in the snow only to watch touchdowns frittered away by dropped balls, penalties, and fumbles the likes of which Brady and Manning have never seen.

I'm not looking for new offensive weapons. I just want them to use the old one. The one from '05. The running game that prevented defenses from clogging the passing lanes and didn't allow teams like Arizona last year to sprint their linebackers 20 yards backward to jump routes.

You act like guys like Brady, Manning and Romo are playing in a vacuum and throwing darts down at the pub.

Remember what Brady did with those pedestrian receivers in '06? He had a Carson '07 rating of 87. Then he got three studs (like Carson had in '05), skied to 117, and threw twice as many TDs.

Last year, Romo's running game got 4.2 yards per carry for the league's ninth best defense. I would hope he has numbers. The last time Carson had a 4.2 running game, he had a triple digit passer rating. Wonder what he would do with the ninth best defense.

Give Romo the 24th running game, the 27th defense and no T.O., and his rating is 75, tops.

Even Hall of Fame QBs need help. This is football. You can't have anything without the other.

I guess you could call it an impasse, but thanks for writing.

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