There is one thing Seattle Seahawks fans have come to expect from Pete Carroll and John Schneider...the unexpected. The addition of Terrell Owens is simply their latest surprise, leading many to jump to some erroneous conclusions.
Some analysts have argued the Seahawks mistakenly overlooked the receiver position during free agency and the draft. They see taking a chance on players like Antonio Bryant, Braylon Edwards and Owens as a desperate cry for help.
While Seattle certainly could have used some more young talent at receiver, the fact is they simply had bigger issues as they rebuild the team. They needed to work on the pass rush and they didn't have a starting middle linebacker.
Adding a rookie would ignore that their big need at receiver is veteran leadership.
They might have liked to add an experienced free agent, but the receivers that were available in 2012 were signing big-dollar contracts. Seattle is already paying Sidney Rice and couldn't afford another big contract at receiver. The NFL rewards teams that can find great production with a value price tag, and that is exactly what they could get from Owens.
Aside from the favorable cap figure, signing Owens provides needer leadership and drops a proven playmaker that knows how to find the end zone into an offense that could use some firepower.
Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell were looking for a certain set of skills and attributes to add at wide receiver.
Schneider says the #Seahawks had 4 watches on T.O. Mentioned 4.43 and 4.45 40 times.— Dave Softy Mahler (@Softykjr) August 7, 2012
They want size and speed. They desperately need a receiver that can run solid routes and that can be a playmaker.
Owens has these qualities, or at least had them two seasons ago. His workouts have led the team to believe he can be close enough to the receiver that caught 72 passes for 983 yards and nine touchdowns in 14 games.
But the bigger factor is his ability to provide veteran leadership for their young receivers.
Similar to the role Lawyer Milloy served in the secondary two seasons ago, Seattle needs a player to help teach the younger players the tools and techniques needed to be a threat in the NFL. The team needs a player that can groom the dedication and training needed to succeed.
On the surface, that may not seem to be Owens.
His petulant behavior is well-established. He felt isolated in San Francisco and not supported by the management, likely triggering abandonment issues stemming from a difficult childhood.
He demanded a split with the 49ers, only to have a paperwork snafu by his agent get in the way of becoming a free agent.
Then came a stint in Buffalo and Cincinnati. There were no off-field antics, no disgruntled quarterbacks and no locker room battles. He was mostly under the radar in the two smaller markets, allowing him to focus on his trade.
He should have the same opportunity in Seattle.
Owens works as hard as anyone in the NFL and has added quality strength and size since coming into the league. That work ethic is a positive attribute for the young players to follow.
Kris Durham in particular has the ability to become bigger and more powerful, increasing his value in the NFL.
Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) August 7, 2012
But what player should the Seahawks expect over the coming weeks and possibly months? Will it be Terrell, the hardworking playmaker, or T.O., the locker room distraction and cancer that can divide a young team?
The answer lies in his motivation, as Owens is returning to the NFL with the Seahawks for a few distinct reasons.
First, he needs the money. Child support and poor money management has him financially strapped. His one-year contract with Seattle will help, but Owens is likely looking at getting a final contract for 2013 with a decent pay raise.
The only way that happens is if he plays nice in Seattle.
The need for a second contract negates the concern that he'll flake out and attempt to get cut once his contract becomes fully guaranteed.
There is another reason to believe Owens will be a dedicated teammate.
He is an emotional player that does care about his legacy. He wants to be able to walk away from the NFL at some point having left on a positive note.
The only way Owens can truly embrace his legacy is if he helps a team win and does so without creating the negativity the plagued him earlier in his career.
There is something special in Seattle that makes it a good environment for Owens to thrive.
He grew up without a solid family structure. He didn't have an active father figure and was bounced between his mother and grandmother.
A sense of family is something he craves, and that is the type of environment that is fostered by Carroll and the Seahawks organization, from Paul Allen and Schneider, right down to the fan base.
As long as Owens decides to follow "I'm in," he'll have the support of his teammates. The moment he decides he doesn't want to play nice with his quarterback and the youngsters at receiver, Seattle will release him.
If the experiment works it will pay of very well for Seattle and Terrell. But if T.O. surfaces again, he'll be put back on the street for the final time and it will happen before he has an opportunity to become a cancer in the locker room.