INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 14: Chad Ochocinco #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals reaches for a pass during the Bengals 23-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 14 2010 in Indianapolis Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
When the Bengals finally giving the team's younger wide receivers a shot to see what the future may hold, Cincinnati's offense benefited, summarized in Carson Palmer's rejuvenated body-language like he was actually having fun again. All of this happened when the Bengals two reality-show superstar wide receivers sat due to their respective injuries.
Marvin Lewis left open the possibility that Chad Ochocinco could play during the team's regular season finale against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend. However that possibility has closed with Chad missing Wednesday and Thursday's practices. Now he's not even making the trip to Baltimore.
This is relatively big because Chad Ochocinco may have already played the final game in his Bengals career. His contract calls for an option in 2011. If the Bengals pick it up, they pay Chad $6 million and if they let him go to free agency, the Bengals pay the wide receiver $3.5 million.
Reports have surfaced that Chad would like to remain in Cincinnati as a Cincinnati Bengal. On one hand, as we saw against the San Diego Chargers, the Bengals can continue grooming the team's younger receivers to the point that Chad won't be needed in 2011. On the other hand, the cost to keep Chad would only be $2.5 million and based on injuries that happen every year, having decent receivers stocked is always wise.
However, Chad no longer has leverage. If Chad wants to stay, then the Bengals have the luxury to dictate terms. A few things the team could emphasize is that Chad participates in all offseason programs, ditches his reality/talk shows and mentors the receivers about his work ethic and film study (which is typically under-reported), then he's more than welcome to return. But the old Chad really isn't needed anymore. If he can't help Cincinnati open the door to the next generation of receivers, then there's no real reason to keep him. And this is coming from a guy that spent most of Cincy Jungle's existence defending Chad Ochocinco, calling him one of the reasons that Cincinnati was finally showcased nationally for something positive back in 2003.