Allow me to be the first to congratulate the Cincinnati Bengals. They have successfully managed to bring their team back down to the level that we have grown accustomed to since the days following Boomer Esiason. If there is such a thing as addition by subtraction, than there surely must be subtraction by addition. Taking on a slowing, drop-prone receiver when there are numerous internal and external options available smacks of desperation for a team that shouldn’t be desperate for receiving options. Even putting Terrell Owens attitude problems aside, there were reasons far beyond the locker room that contributed to him being jobless in July. Moreover, I defy you to find many examples of a free agent lingering until July only to have a major positive impact on his club. But it gets even better, folks.
The Dallas Cowboys didn’t jettison T.O. because of his attitude, it was because he was slowing down. He was starting to shy away from contact over the middle, a part of his game that he had become famous for. He insisted on going deep when even the Frank Walkers of this league could keep up with him. Finally, when he did get his hands on the ball, he led the league in drops. While I understand the complaint that the quarterbacks throwing him the ball in Buffalo were subpar, there is a reason T.O. was in Buffalo to begin with. After being dumped by Dallas, no one else wanted Owens then. Why, a year later, a year slower, and with diminished production, would I want to take a chance on that player? I have to be pretty far out of options to take on that kind of player. Especially not when there are alternatives.
The Bengals drafted Jordan Shipley out of Texas in the third round, a great route runner, a tough player over the middle, and while he doesn’t have blazing speed was plenty good enough to elude Big 12 cornerbacks all over the field. He had an amazing way of being the defense’s #1 threat yet consistently found the open area of the field, and wasn’t afraid to go up and seize the ball. He is exactly the kind of player that would complement Antonio Bryant and Chad Ochocinco in that receiving corps. With Owens on board, you can count on his playing time being diminished significantly. As a GM, who do you want on the field? Your young gun with better physical tools who brings the same toughness to the table as your older vet or the veteran who no one else- not even the worst team in the league what has a total of zero viable receivers- would touch.
And then there is the attitude problem. I am just looking at this as a numbers game. With Cedric Benson setting the tone for the offense, this is no longer the Carson Palmer show of old. Moreover, it certainly isn’t the Chad Ochocinco show anymore. With Antonio Bryant in the fold it was already going to be a challenge to get enough catches for those two receivers. Add Terrell Owens to the mix, who hasn’t yet acknowledged that he isn’t the player he once was, and you have three receivers who define themselves by big numbers suddenly being forced to share a smaller pie with more people. If Owens was entering this scenario understanding that he was a role player this would be another scenario, but he isn’t. He still thinks he ranks among the best receivers in the league.
That is a problem, because when things turn south for the Bengals this season (and they will at some point), the jabbering will start. And then Bryant will join in, and Ochocinco after that. I have always liked Chad Ochocinco actually, as he has put the Bengals first on a number of occasions and hasn’t been as toxic as Owens. When they share the same locker room, you never know how that dynamic could change.
I would like to send my thanks to the Cincinnati Bengals, for giving the Ravens just a bit better odds of winning the AFC North.