Sometimes NFL teams get desperate. Sometimes that desperation can lead to questionable moves. The question is, with Andre Johnson still sidelined with his third injury in two years and with polarizing veteran wide receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco on the market, how desperate are the Houston Texans? There is no sugar coating the Texans’ current situation at wide receiver, if Johnson is out for any extended period of time (or doesn’t return to full form), the group led by Kevin Walter and a handful of rookies and second year guys is the worst receiving corps in professional football. Period. So, do the Texans bring in Owens or Ochocinco? If the team exhausts all other options, they may be left with no choice.
Both Owens and Ochocinco are potentially future hall of fame receivers. Their career numbers speak for themselves (Owens: 1,078 catches, 15,934 yards, 153 TDs; Ochocinco: 766 catches, 11,059 yards, 67 TDs.), but both are more synonymous with their antics, both on and off the field. Excessive celebrations, bickering with QBs and coaches, and shirtless sit-ups in the driveway define these two receivers as much as their production on game day. Both men are guilty of being locker room distractions and carrying entire teams down with their despondent mood swings and narcissistic personalities. The thing is, both Owens and Ochocinco can still play, not the way they used to, but they could contribute as a #2 or #3 wide receiver for a team in desperate need for playmakers on the outside.
And there is that word again, desperate. Despite their age and mileage, there is no question either Owens or Ochocinco would be an immediate upgrade to the Texans’ wide receiver corps. But is bringing them on worth the headache? The Texans have high locker room morale with a group of guys that genuinely seems to enjoy one another and goes to battle for their teammates each and every week. Is signing Owens or Ochocinco worth the risk of disrupting this harmonious environment? If the WR situation gets ugly enough, Texans fans should brace themselves for the inevitable phone calls from GM Rick Smith to the respective representatives of Owens and Ochocinco.
In order for these calls to be placed, a number of unfortunately scenarios would have to play out first. It would have to become clear that Andre is going to miss regular season games or that he has lost a step due to his growing list of injuries. There would also have to be little to no improvement from the group of young receivers the Texans currently have practicing. Sure, the Texans frequently use two running backs and two tight end sets, rely on running the football, and play defense. But in today’s NFL, every team needs at least two wide receivers they can depend on. Furthermore, should the Texans, or any other NFL team for that matter, find themselves in a hole late in the game (and the Texans will at several points this season), they’ll need to go to three or four wide receiver sets to quickly and effectively move the ball down the field to catch up and even the score. The Texans could probably get away with a banged up Andre, Walter, and Jean/Posey/Martin. But if Andre is down, the Texans need a more reliable option, hence the possible interest in Owens and Ochocinco.
Should the Texans decide they need to move forward with bringing in a veteran WR, they’ll probably target Ochocinco first. For one, he actually played in the NFL last season, even if it was a year of career lows. He is 34 years old and has played 11 seasons in the NFL, but compared to Owens’ 38 years of age and 15 seasons, Ochocinco is considerably younger by NFL standards. There is also the hope that Bill Belichick straightened Ochocinco out last season and has humbled him by lack of play and subsequent release. On the flip side, leaving New England is probably like escaping Shawshank for Chad, now he can get back to his usual antics that are so frowned upon by the Patriots. There is also the possibility that Owens has been humbled, having not been picked up by a NFL team last season, forcing him to join an arena football league, only to be fired amid his lack of interest. These are possibilities of course, but it’s doubtful the positive effects of their sobering experiences are realities.
With the Texans openly interested in bringing in veteran wide receiver help, it’s only a matter of time before they contact Owens or Ochocinco. The team will continue to search high and low for other WRs, but if working out guys like Mike Sims-Walker is any indication, it’s slim pickings for free agent wide outs. In the meantime, media outlets and fans alike will continue to speculate as to whether either Owens or Ochocinco end up with the Texans or elsewhere this upcoming season and whether they can be effective and more importantly, can they behave? Any team that takes a chance on these two guys would have to be a little bit crazy, and well, desperate.
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