Many Carolina Panthers fans will look at the title of this article and think, why are we even talking about this? I have to admit that same thought crossed my mind when I was reading some articles about Chad Ochocinco today.
With the Panthers on the rise, under their dynamic quarterback, Cam Newton, I'm sure a lot of fans are looking at ways in which the Panthers could improve. With that said, many believe that the Panthers could greatly improve at wide receiver.
In my opinion, however, Ochocinco would not be an improvement at that position. In other words, the Panthers should not consider signing Ochocinco or any veteran free agent wide receiver currently on the market.
Ochocinco's release from the New England Patriots has become a bit of a popular topic lately. As I read some articles about his release and checked out the comments, I was surprised to notice that some Panther fans actually thought that signing Ochocinco would be a good idea.
So I wondered: Do some Panther fans think signing Ochocinco is a good idea because he'd provide some more veteran presence?
It's not surprising that some Panther fans would consider wanting another veteran wide receiver playing on the opposite side of Steve Smith. As of right now and with the exception of Smith, the Panthers have a fairly young receiving core: Brandon LaFell, David Gettis, Seyi Ajirotutu,Kealoha Pilares, Joe Adams, Armanti Edwards, Darvin Adams, Brenton Bersin,Michael Avila and Rico Wallace.
Of all of those receivers, LaFell is the oldest at 25, and even he is eight years younger than Smith. Though LaFell was productive at times last season, his three touchdowns and 613 receiving yards in 2011 are not going to be enough to guarantee a start in game one of the 2012 season.
Should the Panthers consider signing Ochocinco?
It also doesn't help that Gettis is going to be making a comeback from a season-ending injury. And with the way that Gettis played in 2010, the competition between him and LaFell might be a tight one.
But even though LaFell's numbers are not necessarily elite-status, they are still way more impressive in comparison to Ochocinco's last season. Ochocinco had only one touchdown and 276 receiving yards.
In Ochocinco's defense, can we blame his lack of productivity on joining another team? Definitely not. LaFell's situation last year was not much different than Ochocinco's. LaFell was playing with a new head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback. In a sense, you could say that LaFell was also playing with a new team.
As a veteran, one would think that Ochocinco would be able to adjust to another team's system easier than a younger receiver like LaFell. But that wasn't the case. Ochocinco's inability to learn the Patriots offense is a huge reason why he was released. Thus, Ochocinco's veteran presence would not improve the Panther's receiving core; it may actually make it worse.
Whenever a coaching staff considers bringing in another player, they should consider whether or not that player will improve a particular area of the team. I'm sure the Panther's coaching staff already knows this.
In this case, adding another veteran presence at wide receiver would not improve the Panthers' offense. One might ask whether this reasoning includes other veteran free agents like Braylon Edwards, Terrell Owens and Plaxico Burress. That's another subject of its own, but I'm sure you can make a strong case.
My opinion still stands: Let the young guys do their thing. It seems unreasonable to sign some veteran based on what he's done in the past and not what he's been unable to do lately.