There has been a lot of speculation of late about where Ochocinco will play in 2011, and most of that speculation has been done by a man who goes by the name "Pepe."
Despite what many critics say about Ochocinco, he desperately wants to win and cares deeply about the game of football. What I would suggest however is that critics are right when they say that Ocho would quite happily hitch his wagon to an already successful team, to get his ring before he retires. Point being, Ocho comes first.
What does this mean for Cincinnati? Let's take a look.
Marvin Lewis has made it clear that Chad is under contract, and despite the verbal sparring between the two, this remains to be the case. The result will largely be influenced by what takes place at the Draft.
If the Bengals take a big money receiver at the top, Mike Brown might let Ocho fly the nest. If they don't, expect Brown to have Ocho honor the remainder of his contract.
Now some might suggest that similarly to Carson Palmer, forcing Ochocinco to play another season, will result in little to no production from him. This is where I would disagree.
Ochocinco wants to play football, whereas Palmer is willing to retire. Ochocinco needs to produce, whereas Carson is quite happy to bow out. In spite of this, some might suggest that Chad is far too hot-headed to see this point of view and that no good can come of keeping him around any longer following his fallout with Coach Lewis.
Deion Sanders suggested that the verbal sparring between Lewis and Ochocinco is not the "volatile" situation that some argue, believing instead that there is no cause for concern.
He likens Lewis to a stepfather, in that Chad loves him one minute, and the next he's wanting to know, "Why is my mother married to this guy?"
It may be a strange analogy, but it does give a bit of clarity to this love/hate relationship. Bengals fans more than anyone know that the Lewis/Ochocinco relationship has always been like this and fully expect this of both of them.
Prior to the 2008 season Ochocinco campaigned to leave Cinci, and as we all know, that didn't happen. What followed was Ochocinco's statistically worst year of his career thus far.
This might leave some to suggest that the same will happen again in 2011. However, if Ocho is forced to come back to Cincinnati for the final year of his contract, he is going to have to spend that final year auditioning for teams who might be interested in him next year.
Unlike in 2008 where he still had a lot of contractual time left, 2011 will likely be his last in stripes as the team looks to the youth. Now more than ever, Ochocinco needs to produce.
If ever there was an opportunity to make good of his abilities, it's this year. It's a new offense, a new approach, with a [likely] new QB and no T.O. to take the No. 1 receiver status from you. If that isn't an incentive to get something out of Ocho, then there's not much that can be done.
Ochocinco has made it clear that changes need to be made from the top down in Cinci, which they have. It's now time for Chad to take the initiative to work hard and retool and revitalize his game to help this new offense succeed.
Whether he's in Cincinnati or not, there is incentive for him to produce this year. He's most definitely keeping in shape and working hard (see You Tube work-outs not MLS career).
If Ocho wants a job next year, Cincinnati or elsewhere, he has to prove the naysayers wrong. There is no doubt he has the ability, but does he have the sense and the drive? Speculation about the Bengals taking a WR early in the draft should serve as a wake-up call to Ochocinco that his time might just be up.