There are a few things for the level-headed Bengals fan to consider as the Terrell Owens-to-Cincinnati story make its rounds.
First and foremost, Chad Ochocinco is not the Bengals' general manager, no matter how much he likes the idea of seeing his good buddy Owens in a Bengals uniform this upcoming season. Chad may be able to "guarantee" T.O. will be in Cincinnati next season. But the fact is, Number 85 can only predict what may happen, and his playful recruiting tactics have only so much effect.
There's never been a final Bengals arbiter not named Brown since the franchise was born. It's been Mike Brown since Paul Brown died. PB was in control until the year he passed. With Mike Brown looming just as large as ever as patriarch of the franchise, some wonder how much final say head coach Marvin Lewis has in the draft room, let alone how much influence Ochocinco has (read that to be zero) on free-agent decisions.
Also, Owens will turn 37 during the 2010 season and he just had his least productive full season (55 catches, 829 yards, 5 touchdowns) since his rookie year. Owens may be a six-time Pro Bowl selection with over 1,000 catches and 14,000 receiving yards, and he may have muscles popping from places most don't, but he's also got a lot of miles on the machine, by NFL standards, and he's still God's gift to the dropped pass, not to mention a controversy waiting to happen.
And there's this, level-headed Bengals fan. For now, T.O. is still a Buffalo Bill, and he will be until his one-year, $6.5 million contract runs out the day the free-agent session opens March 5. That day, T.O. will become an unrestricted free agent. In the meantime, the Bengals can't talk about Owens, and it's doubtful Ochocinco knows anything concrete about the Bengals' free-agent plans, especially with specific regard to Owens, whom the Bengals may not be interest in acquiring.
Additionally, the Bengals' foray into the aging free-agent receiver market might have ended last year with Laveranues Coles, who will be in the second year of a four-year, $27.5 million contract in 2010. Coles took a lot of deserved criticism in his first Bengals season, but he was playing his best football during the back half of the schedule after gaining an understanding of the entire offense and finding a better groove with Carson Palmer. Coles, four years younger than Owens, should be back. Right now, he's the Bengals second-best receiver behind Ochocinco.
Consideration should be given to the fact T.O. and Ochocinco share the same agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and it's not outside the realm of possibility Chad knows some little something about perhaps a modicum of Bengals interest in Owens because of the Rosenhaus connection.
Consideration also should be given to the fact that the two receivers have been partying it up and living large in Miami, the center of the football universe this week in the run-up to Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday.
Everybody's looking for a story, even Chad.
Well, he might have cooked one up.
According to the Chad Ochocinco Network, via football writer Jay Glazer, we learned today there's a possibility we'll see T.O. in a Bengals uniform in 2010. Ochocinco actually told Glazer this morning the Bengals were going to sign Owens.
Said Chad: "I like what we have. But I think a veteran presence and giving Carson another target, someone of that caliber.... It would bring more excitement to the city." When Chad was asked if T.O. could be a good teammate, he responded, "He wouldn't have a choice, he's with me. I've got him right under my wing."
Naturally, this has sparked a lot of speculation. Some say the Bengals don't have a problem bringing in players who have character issues while suggesting the Bengals' QB situation would be an upgrade for Owens, who could be a nice one-year fix as the Bengals groom young receivers. Others argue that T.O. and team-preaching Marvin Lewis don't seem like a good fit while wondering who would be the deep man among Ochocinco, Owens and Coles, if they all remained healthy. Still others believe this is nothing more than Chad being look-at-me Chad and trying to break his own news during the biggest media week of the NFL season.
For what it's worth, Owens doesn't seem eager to leave Buffalo, telling NFL.com, "I would like to be a Bill under the right circumstances. I want to compete for a Super Bowl. If the necessary pieces are put in place for that to happen, then I'll be there (in Buffalo)." But Owens also indicated to the NFL Network's Deion Sanders that a move to Cincy could happen because he and Chad could play together, saying, "Of course we could. I did with Jerry (Rice). Chad and I are the best of friends. Nothing could drive a wedge between us."
Ochocinco, providing a quote for his own story, told the NFL Network's Rich Eisen and Warren Sapp that the league does not want to see he and T.O. on the same team "because it would be too dynamic."
It remains to be seen how dynamic things would be for the Bengals with three 30something receivers, all of whom are past their prime and none of them being a legitimate deep-ball threat - something the Bengals really need. The trio of Ochocinco, Owens and Coles? What are the odds all three go through the entire schedule unhurt?
If you've been listening to Bengal-turned-commentator Boomer Esiason, such a three-headed monster would not work in Cincinnati. Esiason doesn't believe it's good to have Ochocinco around, much less T.O. Esiason suggested the Bengals should get rid of Chad while doing Pro Bowl radio commentary. Esiason said he is "not a fan of Ochocinco," adding that Chad is all about Chad, not the team, and that his trash-talking antics leading up to games get other teams more focused because they don't want to be shown up.
That is debatable.
But Esiason, who knows a thing or two about the Bengals after having been a player and long-time observer, also suggested the Cowboys and Eagles were better off after they got rid of Owens. If it were up to Esiason, neither T.O. nor Ochocinco would be a Bengal in 2010.
Alas, Esiason isn't the Bengals' GM, either.