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T.J. Houshmandzadeh became a free agent today, and it's highly unlikely he will remain with the Cincinnati Bengals. Coach Marvin Lewis insisted at the NFL combine last weekend that Cincinnati will be in the mix to re-sign its leading receiver, but Houshmandzadeh's comments in recent months seemed to indicate he is eager to test the market. It's not difficult to imagine a receiver-hungry team such as Philadelphia or Chicago making him a sizable offer.

Houshmandzadeh's apparent exit raises questions about the status of Chad Ocho Cinco, whose trade value has fallen significantly in the past year. By trading him, the Bengals could make a clean break from the diva-receiver years, if they are so inclined.

Lewis downplayed the idea. Asked whether he could envision going into next season without Houshmandzadeh and Ocho Cinco, he said, "I don't think such a scenario exists."

Regardless, it's looking more and more like the Bengals dropped the ball last spring when they turned down Washington's offer of a 2008 first-round pick and a conditional 2009 pick (potentially another first-rounder) for Ocho Cinco.

Of all the rumors about the Blue Jackets' quest for a center before next week's trade deadline, the most intriguing might be one that has them trading top prospect Nikita Filatov to Pittsburgh for center Jordan Staal.

It's hard to know whether either team would make that deal -- it would be the kind of blockbuster that might hound a general manager for years if it didn't work -- and the Penguins supposedly also want a first-round draft pick in the exchange. That seems a pretty stiff price, even though Staal was the second pick of the 2006 draft.

Still, it's not hard to see why some think it might work. The Penguins could use a talented winger such as Filatov next to Evgeni Malkin, and the Jackets need a center. Getting Staal would give them two top young centers (with Derick Brassard) for the foreseeable future.

Tyson Gentry has gained movement in both of his legs. The father of the former Ohio State Football player, paralyzed during a spring practice three years ago, told The Morning Journal of Lorain that the breakthrough occurred in the past three weeks.

"In his world, that is huge," Bob Gentry wrote in an e-mail to the paper. "The neat part is that you don't have to stare and wonder if you saw them move. That emotion is off the charts."

With new blood at the top of the Cleveland Browns hierarchy, there is talk that quarterback Brady Quinn no longer has a lock on the starting job. ProFootballTalk.com reported that a "source with knowledge of the dynamics in Cleveland" said coach Eric Mangini and general manager George Kokinis are "lukewarm" on Quinn, the Dublin native and former first-round pick.

Because neither Mangini nor Kokinis has to justify the decisions to draft Quinn or to sign Derek Anderson, the prevailing theory is that they would hang onto Anderson and let the quarterbacks compete for the starting job.

This is either bad news or good news for the Cleveland Cavaliers: The Boston Globe reported that the Celtics, the Cavs' chief rival in the Eastern Conference, are expected to sign two-time All-Star Stephon Marbury as soon as he clears waivers, possibly today.

Marbury was a royal pain during a long period of inactivity for the New York Knicks, but the Celtics apparently became intrigued during the preseason when he scored 16 points in an exhibition game against Boston.

Marbury likely would come off the bench for the Celtics, defending big guards and doing a lot of ball-handling.

Some members of the Washington Nationals ownership group reportedly hope to use a federal probe into a Latin America scouting scandal as a way to cut ties with general manager Jim Bowden. Bowden is the highest-ranking official involved in the investigation, which is examining practices dating to 1994 when he held the same position with the Cincinnati Reds. In one widely publicized incident, the Nationals awarded a $1.6 million contract to a 20-year-old player from the Dominican Republic who used a false name and claimed to be 16.

Nationals owners inherited Bowden as GM three years ago, and according to The Washington Post, some would like to remove him. Bowden has denied wrongdoing, but team president Stan Kasten has shied away from defending Bowden and noted that some teams have already fired people because of the investigation.

The Nationals joined that group yesterday, firing former Reds pitcher Jose Rijo, who was a special assistant to Bowden.



The Dominican Republic newspaper Hoy reported that the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh are interested in veteran pitcher Pedro Martinez, but that none has offered him a contract. Martinez is throwing in the Dominican Republic in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. ... Ohio State's spring Football game will be back on WBNS-TV (Channel 10) and ONN after appearing on the Big Ten Network last year. ... A "league source" told the Akron Beacon-Journal that the Cavs might have an interest in 38-year-old free agent Robert Horry. ... NFL.com reported that Browns defensive tackle Shaun Rogers has asked the team not to pick up the $6 million option-bonus payment due to him next month and would rather be released, despite being owed another $15 million in guaranteed money. ... South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier told quarterback prospect Connor Shaw that he is "nowhere near retiring," apparently in response to rumors that Spurrier is going to leave within two years.

Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 27, 2009

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