Chad Ochocinco: Possible Destinations in Free Agency
With the sudden yet expected release of Chad Ochocinco, the disgruntled receiver became one of the best receivers now on the market.
There should be a number of teams chasing after Ochocinco's services, even though he had the worst season of his career in 2011. He is 34 years old, but I firmly believe he can still get the job done. He has a couple of solid years left in him.
As of right now, there are a number of teams that desperately need a receiver, and a few of those teams should be looking at Ochocinco to come in and (hopefully) make the impact he didn't show in New England.
Even though he is in his mid-30s, Ochocinco has played fairly well since reaching the 30-year-old landmark. Before then, he was one of the most feared receivers in the game, making phenomenal plays in his days as a Cincinnati Bengal.
Since 2002, his second season in the NFL, Ochocinco has accumulated seven 1,000-yard seasons, including a league-leading 1,369 yards in 2006. He narrowly missed out on his eighth 1,000-yard season in his last season as a Bengal, recording 831 yards in just twelve starts. Additionally, Ochocinco has caught at least seven touchdowns in six seasons, maximizing at 10 in 2003.
As I said before, I believe Ochocinco can come into the right offense and put up decent numbers. He has shown over his career that he can be one of the best in the NFL, even though those days are behind him. But in 2012, Ochocinco has all the capabilities of registering a 700-yard season if he's in the right offense.
He's just got to find it and hopefully, one of the following teams contains the correct offense for Ochocinco.
The Dolphins made the foolish mistake of trading away Brandon Marshall, one of the best receivers in the league. There's no doubt that Marshall is a headache with numerous off-the-field issues, but he's still a receiver that can change games. After all, many consider Randy Moss and Terrell Owens to be the exact same thing, and I believe their careers turned out alright.
With Marshall now a Bear, the Dolphins are left with a mediocre receiving corps that includes Davone Bess and Brian Hartline as their team's starters. Outside of those two, there's Legedu Naanee, Roberto Wallace, Rishard Matthews and rookies B.J. Cunningham, Jeff Fuller and Derek Moye.
Needless to say, the team is going to struggle with that group of receivers. Not to mention, they could be ushering in a new era with rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who could win the starting job in training camp.
And if there's one thing that history has shown us, rookies usually struggle in their first season. The smart thing to do would be to list Matt Moore as the starting quarterback, even though there's no way he will be able to make those receivers great.
If the team were to sign Ochocinco, he would likely become the team's No. 1 or No. 2 starter. He's shown in the past that he can do great things with mediocre quarterbacks, and he'd be doing it again for Miami in 2012.
Like I've said before, Ochocinco has got all the talent in the world even though he is 34 years old. He can still get the job done in the right offense. Miami's front office should definitely consider signing him.
I deem this to be one of the most unlikeliest scenarios, but anything can happen in the NFL.
The Browns have struggled in finding a No. 1 receiver in recent years, as the last time they had one was Ozzie Newsome. Since Newsome last led the team in receiving yards in 1985, Brian Brennan, Webster Slaughter, Reggie Langhorne, Michael Jackson, Derrick Alexander, Kevin Johnson, Quincy Morgan, Dennis Northcutt, Antonio Bryant, Braylon Edwards, Mohamed Massaquoi, Ben Watson and Greg Little have led the team in that category. Pretty big list, right? That's 13 receivers that have led the team in receiving yards in 26 seasons. Needless to say, that isn't too good.
Cleveland undoubtedly needs a No. 1 receiver even if Ochocinco may not fit the bill at 34 years old.
However, Ochocinco would add some veteran leadership to a receiving corps that doesn't have a player over 28 years old. Josh Cribbs, who would be the veteran among the group, is 28, and Greg Little, who led the team in receiving yards last season, is 23 years old. Meanwhile, Massaquoi and Jordan Norwood are both 25, rookie Travis Benjamin is 22 and Carlton Mitchell is 24.
Ochocinco's veteran presence would definitely give a much-needed boost to the Browns' thin receiving corps.
Unfortunately, if this scenario were to play out, the former Bengal would be catching balls from either the mediocre Colt McCoy or rookie Brandon Weeden, who will be a Chris Weinke-like 28 year old when the 2012 season starts.
The Browns could definitely use a player like Ochocinco.
Even though Cam Newton had a record-breaking rookie campaign, the Panthers still didn't have a solid No. 2 receiver.
Steve Smith has been one of the best receivers over the last decade, but since Muhsin Muhammad left prior to the 2005 season, the Panthers have lacked a legitimate No. 2 option.
Last season, Smith led the team with 79 receptions and 1,394 receiving yards. Running back Jonathan Stewart was second on the team's reception list with 47, while tight end Greg Olsen was third with 45 catches.
The seldom-used Legedu Naanee, who is now a Dolphin, was perhaps the team's second-best receiver in 2011, as he registered 44 catches even though he started 11 games. Brandon LaFell recorded 36 catches, third best among Carolina's receivers.
Believe it or not, after Smith, Naanee and LaFell, there was only one other receiver that caught at least one pass. And that was Seyi Ajirotutu who, coincidentally, caught only one pass over the course of the 2011 season.
David Gettis was projected to be the team's No. 2 receiver entering the season, but the receiver tore his ACL in an August practice which caused him to miss the entire season. He should be able to return 100 percent this season, although it will be a struggle for him. Carolina also used a fourth-round selection in April's draft on Arkansas receiver Joe Adams, who will likely fight for the slot.
But, I just don't believe that Gettis, LaFell and Adams are the answers for the No. 2 spot. Ochocinco would definitely be a valuable asset for the team, despite being 34. But after all, Steve Smith is 33 and he is coming off a 1,000-yard campaign. So, Ochocinco could do it if Smith did it in 2011 as both players entered the league in 2001. Ochocinco would be a valuable addition to the Panthers' high-powered offense that's led by Cam Newton.
New York Jets
For some mysterious reason, the Jets decided to not fully address their need of a receiver in free agency thus far. They did, however, address it through the draft, as they took Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill in the second-round.
Hill is expected to immediately become the team's No. 2 receiver behind the disgruntled and problematic Santonio Holmes.
Outside of Holmes and Hill, they are rather thin at that position with Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens, Dexter Jackson, Scotty McKnight and undrafted free agent Jordan White who caught an astounding 140 passes last season at Western Michigan.
Even though it's not a humongous need, each team in the NFL still needs a full receiving corps. The mixture of Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow will likely not even utilize the No. 3 receiver that much, but it is still a need.
But if they wanted to, Ochocinco would be a solid option.
He may not fit well with Santonio Holmes, as many fans, analysts and writers consider them both to be "head cases." However, there have been multiple teams over the years that have dealt with players with big egos, and in this case, it wouldn't be any different. Especially for Mark Sanchez.
With the Jets wanting to make the Super Bowl badly, they will need to rely on some sort of passing game. They're not going to be able to make it that far in the postseason with a decent running game and a mediocre passing game. That's just not the way it works.
Ochocinco could change that.
The Vikings may not be in dire need of a receiver like some of these other teams, but there's no doubt that they could use Ochocinco's services.
Minnesota already has Percy Harvin on the roster, who will likely enter 2012 as the starter, even though many people don't consider him as a solid No. 1 receiver, including myself. Outside of Harvin, they list fourth-round picks Greg Childs and Jarius Wright, both of whom were teammates at Arkansas. There's also Michael Jenkins, who is a solid contributor and the veteran of the group.
The team also signed Jerome Simpson this offseason, but it remains to be seen what exactly will happen to Simpson. In Sept. 2011, police intercepted a package that contained 2.5 pounds of weed. The police asked to search his home, and he consented. They found another six pounds of marijuana, including scales and other empty packages similar to the one they intercepted.
He was sentenced to a paltry 15 days in jail on Apr. 5. However, the NFL has yet to come down with a punishment for Simpson, but when they do, who knows what would happen to the receiver.
As stated earlier, the Vikings may not be in desperate need of a receiver, but they could use one. Ochocinco is the best on the market right now, fresh off of his release by New England.
If this scenario happened, the logical thing to do would be to line Ochocinco up at the No. 1 spot with Jenkins second on the depth chart. Then, the Vikings would be able to put Harvin in his natural spot, the slot. Additionally, there's also been talk that the Vikings could eventually cut Jenkins before the season starts.
The scenario above leaves Simpson without a spot as he awaits Roger Goodell's conclusion. In case his suspension was lengthy and Jenkins was cut, Ochocinco's arrival could be very good for young quarterback Christian Ponder.
The Colts decided to re-sign veteran Reggie Wayne this offseason, but outside of him, there's not much else to be happy about.
Indianapolis signed the injury-prone Donnie Avery in the offseason and drafted Florida International receiver T.Y. Hilton in the third-round of April's draft. Austin Collie is a holdover from last season, even though he has struggled with concussions throughout his three-year career.
There's no doubt that Wayne will be the No. 1 receiver going into the season. Collie will likely become the team's No. 2 option with the slot being fought amongst Avery and Hilton.
However, Collie is more of a slot receiver than a No. 2 receiver, and the Colts should place him back in his natural position. The signing of Ochocinco would be a quality addition as he would be perfect for the Colts' young offense, led by April's No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck.
Simply put, Luck is likely to air it out during his rookie season, much like Peyton Manning did with the Colts in 1998. The Colts lack any type of rushing attack as Joseph Addai left in the offseason. With Addai gone, that leaves Donald Brown, Delone Carter, Darren Evans and late-round selection Vick Ballard to fill out the remainder of the roster.
Needless to say, it's a mediocre rushing attack, which should make Luck continuously air out the football over and over again. If Ochocinco were to end up in Indianapolis, that would mean good things for him as he would be able to catch many passes from the rookie.
For Indianapolis' side, they could use a receiver like Ochocinco.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers have had a rough offseason thus far as they lost marquee receiver Vincent Jackson in free agency. Since he didn't re-sign with San Diego, Jackson packed his bags and headed out to the Southeast for Tampa Bay.
To replace Jackson, the Chargers went out and signed former Saints receiver Robert Meachem to a four-year, $26 million contract. Meachem will likely not be as productive as Jackson, however.
With Meachem likely to be the team's No. 1 man entering the 2012 season, that leaves recent signing Eddie Royal, possible No. 2 receiver Malcom Floyd, the injury-prone Roscoe Parrish, 2011 rookies Vincent Brown and Richard Goodman and Michael Spurlock, who is primarily a kick-returner.
Outside of Meachem and Floyd, the Chargers don't really have anyone except for tight end Antonio Gates. Parrish will likely suffer another season-ending injury and Royal will probably not be used as much, even though he should—Royal recorded 980 receiving yards in his rookie season, but his stats have dipped to 345, 627 and 155 yards, respectively.
The Chargers' offense could be the right offense for Ochocinco.
The Chargers have relied on a stellar aerial attack over the last few seasons with quarterback Philip Rivers recording four straight 4,000-yard seasons, including a league-leading 4,710 yards in 2010.
With a quarterback that has a very strong arm and a quick release, Ochocinco would love to have Rivers throwing him the ball. He would seemingly be a good fit, even though he would likely become the team's third or fourth receiver.
Like the Vikings, the Bills aren't in drastic need of a receiver, but they could use an insurance policy.
Stevie Johnson will be the returning No. 1 starter for the Bills yet again, with Donald Jones and David Nelson likely battling it out for the second spot. Nelson was a regular for the Bills last year as he caught 61 passes for 658 yards and five touchdowns in 13 starts. Jones, on the other hand, played in just eight games and registered 23 receptions for 231 yards.
Behind Johnson, Jones and Nelson, the Bills currently list rookie T.J. Graham, 2011 rookie Naaman Roosevelt, Ruvell Martin, Marcus Easley and the seldom-used David Clowney and Derek Hagan.
Like I said earlier, the Bills don't need another receiver, but they could definitely use one. It's unclear as to whether Jones will be able to stay healthy, and if he will, will he be productive? T.J. Graham could be a solid contributor, but it will take some time for him to reach his potential.
Roosevelt showed some potential during his rookie campaign last season, but it's uncertain if he can become a starter at the professional level. David Nelson seems to have a handle on things and will likely enter the 2012 season as the second receiver behind Stevie Johnson.
If quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn't digress like he did in the final nine games of 2011, the Bills offense should be headed on the right path—especially with running back Fred Jackson coming back from injury. If Fitzpatrick progresses, they could use a player like Ochocinco to help give the Bills a reliable option and a veteran presence in the locker room.