Visiting strategy

Updated: 10:10 p.m.

Even as wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and his wife and children visited the Seahawks on Friday on what one Seattle media observer called "a chamber of commerce day," it's believed the Bengals are still negotiating in a bid to retain their third all-time leading receiver.


Houshmandzadeh
Houshmandzadeh and agent Kennard McGuire couldn't be reached for comment Friday night, but those that cover the Seahawks didn't detect an imminent deal before Houshmandzadeh leaves town.

In other developments on the first day of free agency:

A league source has confirmed that Bengals right tackle Stacy Andrews has agreed to a deal with the Eagles pending the passing of a physical and he planned to meet the Philadelphia media Saturday. Earlier Friday ProFootballTalk.com reported that Andrews re-joined brother Shawn Andrews in Philadelphia with a deal giving him $7 million per year.

  • With Cedric Benson out looking, so are the Bengals, and Giants running back Derrick Ward told a Sirius NFL Radio audience Friday he's visiting Cincinnati this weekend.
  • Bengals backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has opted to be the No. 2 to Trent Edwards in Buffalo.
  • The Bengals re-signed backup running back DeDe Dorsey.

The contract to keep an eye on may be the one Houshmandzadeh mentioned last week in Indianapolis, the $8 million per year inked by Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams. Seahawk observers say the club hasn't indicated where they are on how much they'll pay Houshmandzadeh.

It's unclear if Houshmandzadeh has more visits scheduled. Contacted in the first two hours of free agency, Houshmandzadeh didn't want to elaborate on his Friday morning ESPN interview, but told the network he's most interested in playing for the Giants, Eagles, Seahawks and Vikings.

Other teams linked with him are Tampa Bay and Tennessee, and according to ProFootballTalk.com, Houshmandzadeh texted a Philadelphia radio station offering his services to the Eagles.

On Thursday, he said he'd like a deal by Saturday night no matter where and that the Bengals were still in it.

Report of the Andrews deal comes a season after he made $7.5 million as the franchise player starting the first 15 games at right tackle. With four minutes left in the next to last game, Andrews tore the ACL, underwent reconstructive knee surgery last month, and there was uncertainty with the Bengals when he would be ready to play in '09.

With a Bengals doctor doing the surgery and the Bengals running his rehab, it looked like a deal was coming together. Andrews said last month that he was ahead of schedule and he told The Philadelphia Daily News Friday that he would be ready for training camp.

The Bengals have been trying to sign Andrews since 2006, but the Eagles always seemed to be looming with Shawn Andrews becoming a back-to-back Pro Bowl guard.

The move helps the Eagles not only replace Jon Runyan, but allows Shawn to play next to Stacy on the right side. Shawn Andrews missed the last training camp with a bout of depression.

The move means moves for the Bengals. With Andrews uncertain if he'd play early in the season, it's believed their first option is to move second-year left tackle Anthony Collins to right tackle and left guard Andrew Whitworth to left tackle. That may put them in the market for a veteran guard and heighten the possibility of taking a left tackle with the sixth pick.


N.Y. Giants running back Derrick Ward (Getty Images)
The 5-11, 228-pound Ward is "The Wind" in the Giants "Earth, Wind and Fire" backfield that just locked up the Earth for the long-term in Brandon Jacobs.

Ward still gained 1,000 yards (1,025 yards on just 182 carries) with 5.6 per carry this past season in New York's No. 1 ranked running game. In his four previous seasons, Ward, 28, had just a career total of 725.

The Bengals have said they want to re-sign Benson, but head coach Marvin Lewis said that agent Eugene Parker told the club they were going to the market.

Ward sounded upbeat about the Bengals on the radio show with Adam Schein and John Riggins.

"They have great leadership in Carson Palmer. They have great talent. They have a lot of stuff going for them. Every team needs a couple of pieces to reach that next level," Ward said. "I remember when I came into the league with the Giants we were just a couple of pieces away from being a great team and we showed that throughout the years. It just depends on the situation, depends on the coaching staff.

"Coach Lewis, he's done a heck of a job out there in Cincinnati. Granted, they had a down year last year and the year before but I think that had a lot to do with injuries and stuff like that. But I'm pretty sure everybody is healthy and ready to go and it's a league where anybody can win, anybody can go to the Super Bowl. The last two years has proved that. I really feel that they are an up-and-coming team and big things should happen for them this year."

Although Ward agent Drew Rosenhaus has had to deal with the Bengals over wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco's moods, he's an agent that never has problems making a deal and has made several with the Bengals.

Because he's had so few carries in his career, Ward is using the Houshmandzadeh argument that his body isn't beat up.

"I've got the carries of a second-year player. I've only gotten 350 carries in my career, so I'm still fresh as far as touches go in the NFL," he said. "I feel I can bring to the table a lot of veteran leadership. I came from a great program with the Giants and they did a real nice job of teaching us how to be professionals on and off the field. It doesn't matter if I've been in the league for five years or been in the league for 10 years. As long as I'm able to provide veteran leadership to the team that I'm going to go to, then I think that'll be the perfect situation for me."

With a lot of money rolled up in the effort to get Houshmandzadeh and a running back signed, the Bengals are going more slowly at backup quarterback and Fitzpatrick signed with the Bills on Friday night.

Fitzpatrick, who started 12 games in the place of the injured Carson Palmer this past season, chose to back up Edwards after serving as Palmer's No. 2 since coming over in a trade with the Rams before the 2007 season.

After a rocky start following the injury to Palmer, Fitzpatrick led the Bengals to a 4-3-1 finish while throwing six touchdowns and six interceptions. But it wasn't enough to keep the Bengals from finishing last in NFL offense for the first time in franchise history.

The offense's struggles became Fitzpatrick's struggles. Unable to find a productive running back until Benson arrived in late September, Fitzpatrick was either the Bengals' first- or second-leading rusher in 10 games. And he was sacked 38 times in 12 games, the most for a Bengals quarterback since Jeff Blake's 39 in 1997.

Meanwhile, on the day Houshmandzadeh appealed to the Philly masses, Philadelphia native John Thornton said he expected to be unemployed Friday when he makes his radio debut with Homer jock C. Trent Rosecrans at 10 a.m on Cincinnati's 1530-AM.

Thornton, a Bengals Opening Day defensive tackle the last six seasons, said he heard from the club Thursday but doubts he'll return this season in the backup tackle-end role he finished '08.

His agent has told him he has some other opportunities, but Thornton won't rule out the Bengals.

"I'm not in a hurry," he said. "I'm not in a rush."

As for Houshmandzadeh, Thornton said, "He'll get four teams that are interested, and that's all you want: the ability to make a choice. He's going to get a good deal."

Dorsey played in the first four games last season before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury. He had two receptions for 49 yards and four rushes for eight yards on the year. He also got hurt in '07 when a high ankle sprain stopped season he averaged 8.7 yards on 21 carries.

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