To much of the sporting world, late Wednesday's news that Dallas cut wide receiver Terrell Owens came as a surprise. Many people, myself included, thought it was a given that Dallas would open their new palace with one of the biggest names highlighting this exciting transitional time in order to sell tickets and promote the new venue.
All that stopped when a reportedly "devastated" Owens was released by the team he thought he'd retire with.
Now, it's time to analyze who his new employer might be, from most likely to least.
I consider them favorites, as the "West Coast Cowboys" owner Al Davis never hesitates to add the latest controversial name or troubled athlete. Owens fits the bill and, given Davis' penchant for overpaying players and overestimating their value, this would seem to be a perfect match.
With an improving JaMarcus Russell and a two-headed attack in Michael Bush and Darren McFadden to go along with a good, solid defense, Owens could make the cellar dwellers really good really quick in the mediocre AFC West. If they are also able to add Missouri WR Jeremy Macklin to the mix, they'd have nice depth for the first time in a while.
I hadn't considered them at all on my list when anticipating writing this column, but PTI's Michael Wilbon noted yesterday that the 'Skins open the 'Boys new stadium this year and that, in addition to facing the Cowboys twice a year, would be a good attraction for T.O. and a team that desperately needs to start winning.
Wilbon also noted that signing here would allow two annual dates against declining Philadelphia, Owens' former team, and Donovan McNabb (who is not declining but needs a new address off this sinking ship).
Owens went to University of Tennessee-Chattanooga (the Mocs!) so that, in addition to his being an Alabama native, might convince him to play here and ultimately retire closer to home. Being on a solid, winning team wouldn't hurt either, and he'd play for a disciplined, veteran coach who could handle him in Jeff Fisher.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I really love what the Bucs have been doing on offense this offseason. First, they re-signed Michael Clayton (a priority in their always-thin WR corps), then they took a risk on talented but injury-prone Kellen Winslow Jr., who should be the best TE they've had since the days of Dave Moore.
Finally, in the most intriguing move, they smartly added up-and-coming Derrick Ward, who I think fits perfectly and will be one of the steals of the offseason. Expect 1,500 yards, although he won't even have to do that in order for his team to have success, as this isn't the "Bucs way". Their defense, perpetually solid despite the loss of veteran leader Derrick Brooks, means half the equation is already in place for a resurgence.
Adding Owens to the offense would only put less pressure on them to feel the need to carry the team like they always do. Only question is, who gets to command this sparkling ship, no pun intended, at QB? Jay Cutler would be a perfect fit, equivalent to what Ward is to the running game.
Kansas City Chiefs
They lost six games by seven points or less and another three by 10 last year, meaning their woeful 4-12 record really is deceptive. Adding DT Glenn Dorsey and OT Brendan Albert in 2008 will help, but also take time.
They've got solid, under-the radar Dwayne Bowe at WR, and the Cassel/Vrabel deal with the Patriots was not only a steal but it filled needs, meaning that No. 3 pick in the draft is all the more beneficial, since it can be used in other avenues to fill needs like LB (Curry?). Adding T.O. would make them suddenly better and allow them to challenge San Diego in the mediocre wild, wild West, similar to how the Raiders would fare should they land him (see above).
The only dark horses I can see are the Detroit Lions, which would only happen if it came down to Owens not getting any other offers and it was a matter of staying in the league or retiring. Don't count them out. Also, the Ravens, now that they aren't starting Kyle Boller (which started the Owens mess in 2004), have a great defense and solid but not spectacular QB in Joe Flacco.
The only question is whether Owens would get the yards and T's enough to keep him quiet, as Joe will max out around 3,000 boring yards in a boring, manage-the-game mentality.