To sign T.O. or not?
The Bengals have been pondering that question since March.
The Cincinnati Bengals passed on Terrell Owens at the beginning of free agency, signing Antonio Bryant instead. It looked as if Owens' chances of becoming a Bengal had ceased after Bryant signed.
Apparently not, however. Antonio Bryant hasn't fully recovered from left knee surgery he had last August, raising questions about how healthy he will be at the start of the Bengals' season.
With the fears around Bryant growing, Owens has popped up again on the Bengals' radar. Mike Brown said the team is definitely interested, and it'd appeared that the Bengals were the front-runners after the St. Louis Rams dropped out of the race.
Owens would be a dangerous threat in a Bengals' passing offense in need of a lift, but there are too many negatives towards T.O. If I were Mike Brown, I'd eventually decide against bringing in the receiver.
Yeah, Owens is an explosive receiver that would take pressure off both Chad Ochocino and Carson Palmer. But, he's not nearly the same receiver he was earlier in his career and will be a huge headache if things don't go his way in Cincinnati.
With that said, here are five reasons the Bengals shouldn't sign him.
The Bengals want Owens to sign by tomorrow so he can arrive in time for training camp to begin.
If he does, that will give him one short month to build chemistry with Bengals QB Carson Palmer.
Palmer thrives off close relationships with his fellow receivers. When they are on the same page, Palmer is one of the deadliest quarterbacks in the league.
With Owens, the two players will have to start from the ground up. Palmer has already gotten the chance to work with new receivers like Bryant and Jordan Shipley. Owens will be way behind the new receivers, and also the veterans.
Plus, Owens will only have a month to learn the Bengals offense. This isn't a huge problem since Owens is 14-year veteran and Bob Bratkowski's offense isn't too outlandish.
They mave worked out with each other, but that doesn't substitute for Owens actually working on Bengals' plays during real practice.
Palmer has supported the Owens signing, but they would have to get on the same page quickly for the relationship to work.
Before the talks of Owens coming to Cincinnati, the Bengals had an interesting position battle going at slot receiver.
Drafted in the third round, Jordan Shipley was brought in to compete with Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson for the Bengals third receiving spot.
Shipley is a polished receiver out of Texas. Caldwell showed flashes last season, but regressed as the year progressed. And Simpson possesses superb athletic ability and is trying to shake the bust label he's earned.
With Owens, none of these guys would get a chance to grow this season. Bryant would be shifted down to slot, and the three young receivers will hardly see the field.
Yes, having Ochocinco, Owens, and Bryant in the same receiving core is tantalizing, but the young receivers are serviceable too.
It'd push their growth back at least one year, maybe even two.
In the end, it'd be a good short-term solution, but it'd hurt the Bengals in the future.
It's obvious that T.O. has lost a step or two the last few years.
Since garnering 1,355 receiving yards for the Cowboys in 2007, his numbers have slowly gotten worse. He had 1,055 in 2008 before his most disappointing year last season, when he only brought in 829 yards.
The Cowboys knew Owens was over the hill when they let him go after the 2008 season. The Bills hoped he still had some left, but he didn't pull through.
Maybe the Bills' anemic offense was the main reason for Owens' low receiving total. But it was pretty obvious that Owens wasn't as explosive as he was in his previous years.
Who knows how much Owens has slowed down now? Although he's known for his tough training regiments, no one knows how hard he's worked this off-season because he hasn't been signed.
If Owens really has peaked, it might mean he isn't the solution for the Bengals. There are many reasons he hasn't been picked up yet and his age is one of the biggest.
The Bengals' reputation took some more hits during this year's offseason.
Cedric Benson supposedly participated in a bar-room brawl in Texas. His punishment is being figured out by Roger Goodell.
On top of that, Rey Maualuga was arrested on drunk-driving charges. Plus, the perennial NFL bad boy Adam "Pac-Man" Jones was brought in to bolster the Bengals secondary.
Antonio Bryant has found himself on a number of different teams due to his character issues, also. Matt Jones has had his share of problems in the past too.
With Owens, the locker room would look like the set ESPN's former show, Playmakers. It'd increase Marvin Lewis' role as a babysitter even more.
Lewis showed great control of the team last year after losing control of the locker room in previous years, but how much can he handle?
Tank Johnson and Adam Jones were two of the worst behaved NFL players before joining the Bengals, and Chad Ochocinco could be the biggest headache.
Owens could provide an even bigger headache.
When you have two reality TV stars in the same receiving core, there's bound to be some drama.
With the Bengals shifting towards a power-run style of offense, both Ochocinco and Owens might not be happy about the number of balls thrown their way.
Carson Palmer can only make so many people happy. Although he's very mature, there's no way he wouldn't be phased by the clamoring of both receivers.
Maybe they will leave their egos at the door, but don't count on it. Ochocinco will always pout when things don't go his way, and Owens is known for treating his quarterbacks like trash.
In the end, Owens could hurt the Bengals more than he could help them. With a young, up-and-coming team like Cincinnati, Owens isn't the answer for a quick fix.