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Antonio Bryant Signs with Bengals, So Does Terrell Owens Return To the Bills?

Dan Van Wie@@DanVanWieContributor IIIMarch 10, 2010

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 27:  Terrell Owens #81 of the Buffalo Bills rushes a reverse against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on December 27, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Word came out of Cincinnati today that free agent wide receiver Antonio Bryant has signed a long-term deal to join the Bengals. This follows the news from the prior week that the Cardinals had dealt Anquan Boldin to the Baltimore Ravens.

Coming into the offseason, Terrell Owens was formally released by the Buffalo Bills as a free agent to join any team he wanted. Just like last year, there were only a select few teams that had rumblings of showing any interest in T.O., which always came back to Baltimore and Cincinnati.

At Cincinnati, Chad Ochocinco was campaigning actively for Owens to join him as a Bengal. But now that both of the A.B.'s, (Bryant and Boldin) have signed on the dotted line, both of T.O.'s major suitors have filled the position. T.O. is left to ponder his future some more.

Who else out there in the league has an opening for a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver? The only team for sure that I am aware of is the Buffalo Bills. Think about it. Terrell already knows where he would live. Heck, he could live anywhere he wanted to in Buffalo because he already has a freakin' key to the city.

All of the problems from the prior season—poor offensive line with no experience, a young offensive coordinator with no experience, a head coach with a defensive mind set, and a poor throwing quarterback—are all things of the past (more or less).

The offensive line will be better after they draft their left tackle with the ninth overall pick, and they gained valuable experience during the past season.

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The Bills are now headed up by an offensive-minded coach in Chan Gailey, that could find additional ways to get T.O. the ball. Gailey is an experienced offensive coordinator as you could find. T.O. wanted to lead the Bills back to the playoffs, so he still has unfinished business here.

The only part that is still up in the air is the QB situation. From Jake Delhomme to Marc Bulger to Derek Anderson, experienced veteran QB's are dropping like flies around the league. To think that Trent Edwards could still be starting next season is a possibility, but it seems unlikely that the Bills couldn't find an improvement over Edwards.

It was widely assumed that T.O. was gone for good as soon as the Bills made him a free agent. But now, I am not so sure. Every Bills fan that went out and purchased a T.O. jersey might be able to pull it out this season and wear it again.

Let's face it, the Bills offseason has been unimpressive to say the least. Signing Owens to come back would give the team, the fans, and the city an adrenaline surge, just in time for the NHL playoffs.

Regarding the current roster, I am not sold on James Hardy's ability to step in this year and be the missing receiver we have wanted to line up opposite of Lee Evans. Hardy could serve as the No. 4 receiver and gain some experience, assuming that Roscoe Parrish is the slot receiver.

What is the worst outcome of bringing in T.O. for one more year? I can't really think of a ton of downside, but I can think of upside, recognizing the different offensive philosophy and the extra intangibles I laid out earlier.

Buddy Nix has some past interface with T.O., albeit briefly, from college days. From a financial standpoint, if once more T.O. has been left with no suitors, the Bills would be wise to create a contract that is heavily tied to performance bonuses and incentives, so T.O. if financially, mentally, and emotionally invested in showing up every game.

Hopefully they learned the lesson from last year and realize that they don't have to pay out a huge inflated base salary. T.O. says that he enjoyed the fans and the city. Now he can prove it by taking an incentive-laced deal.

Crazier things have happened, but if you really look around the league who else needs a quality starting wide receiver right now outside of the Bills? Buddy Nix should be picking up the phone and calling Drew Rosenhaus any minute now.

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