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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | March 6, 2009

Top NFL offseason question: Who’s staying, going?

By Airman 1st Class Patrick McKenna Capital Flyer sports writer

(Editorial note: This article is the third in a series of three)

Albert Haynesworth, defensive tackle for the Tennessee Titans - His timing couldn't be any better. He just completed a fantastic season that saw his team rise from ashes to finish with the best record in the National Football League. The key to the Titans season was their suffocating defense, which finished second in the NFL in points per game. No Titan played a more important role on defense than Haynesworth.

Haynesworth earned his second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance by finishing with 51 tackles and 8.5 sacks, despite missing the final two games of the season. Now he's looking for a big payday in free agency.

Haynesworth is on record as saying he wants to be the highest paid defensive player in the league, and with several defensively challenged teams with boat loads of cap room out there, he will most likely get his wish.

PREDICTION: While Haynesworth is without question an extremely talented player, a lot of teams have to be concerned about the timeliness of his improvement of play. He was a mediocre player up until the past two seasons when the time for his contract's end was fast approaching. He's never played a full season and he already has quite a bit of wear and tear on his body. When motivated, he's a force to be reckoned with and in the end the Titans need him or run the risk of regressing back to mediocrity. He'll resign with the Titans and become one of the league's highest paid players.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, wide receiver, Cincinnati Bengals - The word "underrated" is one of the most overused word in sports, but if there ever was a player who warranted the adjective, it's Houshmandzadeh, who has at least 90 catches each of the last three seasons, but yet has only made one Pro Bowl appearance.

The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off a 4-11 season in which everything that could have gone wrong did. Houshmandzadeh lost star quarterback Carson Palmer after only five games, and had to deal with the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jordan Palmer throwing him the ball. He had zero run game to help keep defenses honest and Chad Johnson had a terrible year. Despite all of these challenges, Houshmandzadeh still managed to finish fifth in the NFL with 92 catches.

The Cincinnati Bengals chose to use their franchise tag on kicker Shayne Graham, which means the team will now have to compete with others around the league for Houshmandzadeh's services. Houshmandzadeh is a former seventh round draft pick who has worked his tail off to reach the level he has. He will turn 33 early next season, so he has one big contract left in him.

PREDICTION: Houshmandzadeh will leave the dysfunctional Bengals and sign a three or four year deal with a team that has a prayer of making the playoffs. The best fit is the Philadelphia Eagles who play in the toughest division in football and are looking to surround Donovan McNabb with some talent for one last Super Bowl run.