Houshmandzadeh, Ravens agree to contract; Clayton dealt to Rams

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens have agreed in principle to a deal with free agent wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and traded wideout Mark Clayton to the St. Louis Rams for an undisclosed draft pick, Ravens executive vice president/general manager Ozzie Newsome announced Monday afternoon.

The 10-year veteran was cut by Seattle last week. He signed with the Seahawks as a free agent before the 2009 season and had a team-high 79 catches for 911 yards and three touchdowns.

But that deal was signed with Jim Mora as coach and Tim Ruskell as general manager, and both are gone from Seattle.

So, too, is Houshmandzadeh, who was in the second year of a five-year, $40 million contract.

Now with the Ravens, Houshmandzadeh "is excited about playing for such an amazing organization," said Kennard McGuire, the player's agent.

"The first things that pop out at you about T.J. are that he has been very productive and durable in his first nine years in the NFL," Newsome stated. "Plus, we saw him more than we wanted making a lot of plays against us. We had interest in him a year ago when he first became a free agent before he signed with Seattle.

"He's another proven weapon for our offense -- a big receiver with good hands and toughness. The one other thing that every coach and player we talked with about him indicated is that T.J. is a driven player with an excellent work ethic."

In previously bolstering wide receiver, the Ravens traded with Arizona for Anquan Boldin in the offseason and signed free agent Donte' Stallworth. But Stallworth broke his left foot in the third exhibition game.

Baltimore also has veterans Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton. The 36-year-old Mason, entering his 14th pro season, has been the Ravens' most consistent receiver for years. In 2009, he was second to running back Ray Rice on the team with 73 catches and led the Ravens with 1,028 yards. He caught seven touchdown passes.

Houshmandzadeh, who will be 33 on Sept. 26, spent his first eight NFL seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, for whom he twice exceeded 1,000 yards in a season (2005 and 2006), and three times had at least 90 receptions. His 112 catches in 2007 tied for the league lead with Wes Welker of New England.

Even with his release by Seattle, Houshmandzadeh was guaranteed $7 million for the 2010 season.

As for Clayton, Baltimore's 2005 first-round pick (22nd overall), who owns a franchise-record nine 100-yard receiving games, Newsome added: "You never reach a point when it's easy to release or trade a player you respect. Everyone here has the highest regard for Mark. He'll help the Rams, and it's good for him that they reached out to get him.

"Mark is a good person who did everything he could to help the Ravens on and off the field," Newsome said. "In the end, we have to do what we think is best for the team, but letting Mark go hurts. He was first class all the way, even when we met with him about the trade. This is a tough part of the business."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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