It was speculated all day Tuesday that Ochocinco would have to restructure his deal to remain with the Patriots. That speculation began with Greg Bedard and Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe.
The more people I talk to about Ochocinco, the more convinced I am that it’s never going to work for him in this offense. It just seems like he’ll never get it. But depending on the other moves, he could be back under a restructured contract, then subject to a release. The team and players loved having him around. He was a terrific teammate, just not even close to being effective.
Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal broke the news officially on Tuesday night.
Source: New England Patriots have approached Chad Ochocinco about restructuring his contract. #NFL—Liz Mullen (@SBJLizMullen) February 29, 2012
Ochocinco is due for a $3 million salary in 2012 and 2013; if the team chooses to cut him, they swallow a $1.5 million cap hit for dead money due to his $4.5 million signing bonus in 2011.
The immediate questions that come to mind for both parties are as follows:
New England Patriots: Who's Going to Play Receiver Next Year?
There's a possibility that Ochocinco could agree to restructure his deal, but whether or not Ochocinco comes back next year, the Patriots are in the market for a receiver that can win matchups on the outside.
Any of those would be great options, and could provide a similar threat to what the team was hopeful to get from Ochocinco in 2011. The Patriots could also choose to draft a receiver or two to grow in the system, but must be wary, as they have been fairly hit-or-miss drafting receivers in the recent past.
Chad Ochocinco: Does He Want More Money To Go Elsewhere, Or Less To Stay?
It's unfortunate for Chad, who seems like a genuinely nice person, but his production in 2011 fell off like GM stock in 2008.
Ochocinco played the fewest snaps in 2011 (354) out of any season since at least 2008, according to Pro Football Focus, and 448 more than his previous low (802, 2008).
The question now is whether he can rediscover the individual success he enjoyed as recently as 2009 (72 receptions, 1,047 yards, nine touchdowns). While some of his struggles may be attributed to the difficulty of the offense, he's much closer to the end of his career than the middle at 34 years old.
The thing is, Ochocinco likely couldn't pick a worse year to hit free agency; as mentioned above, the market is rich with receiving talent, and likely won't be too kind to a receiver on the back nine.
What happens from here is up to Ocho.