CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 21: Chad Ochocinco #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball while defended by Drayton Florence #29 of the Buffalo Bills during the NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium on November 21 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. The Bills won 49-31. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Raise your hands really, really high if you're convinced that Chad Ochocinco will be with a new team in 2012. Raise 'em. We've largely followed the theory, somewhat blindly, that Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco is destined to play with a new team in 2011.
The public squabble between Marvin Lewis and the wide receiver. Chad's $6 million contract; which doesn't seem like a good investment for a player that's averaging 64 receptions, 806 yards receiving and five touchdowns over the course of the past three seasons. The rumors. The irritation from the coaching staff. The belief that Chad is the reason for Palmer's frustration, therefore promoting the theory that the quarterback will return for a final season that will transition into the Andy Dalton era. There's plenty of reasons, mostly all of it is subjective and conjecture.
And what if it's all wrong?
Here's the undeniable truth. As of this posting, Chad Ochocinco is signed through 2011. Granted, even if the Bengals have every intention of moving Ochocinco, they can't with the labor dispute.
Mostly every Bengals fan will agree on two things. We shout Who Dey in our sleep -- scaring the hell out of our girlfriends and wives -- and Ochocinco's time in Cincinnati has come to an end. Not technically, of course. But the cute predictions, the lists, the touchdown dances, the Ochocinco production has lost its flavor.
At the same time, that doesn't change anything. And it surely won't be the breaking point that causes Mike Brown to release Chad to free agency. Or unless someone thinks a trade would happen, which seems unlikely now more than ever. If teams trade for Chad, they get a Twitter-loving showman for $6 million in 2012 whose 67 receptions in 2010 ranked 27th. Whose 831 yards receiving ranked 31st with 58 players posting more receiving touchdowns than Ochocinco.
But it hits us sometimes. Chad Ochocinco could be playing for the Bengals in 2012.
Let's go through the reality of the situation. After Ochocinco, the most experienced wide receiver on the team, Andre Caldwell, hasn't even posted 1,000 yards receiving in his career yet. Jerome Simpson, an expected starter in 2012, recorded one reception for two yards during the first two plus seasons of his career prior to his 20 receptions for 277 yards breakout during the final three games in 2010. Experience is a factor that the Bengals may argue for Chad finishing out his contract.
If the Bengals feel comfortable going with Andy Dalton to start the season, we're not sure that they'd do it with such inexperience amongst the receivers. Granted, we're not sure how much Chad could contribute to the overall passing game that Simpson, Caldwell, Shipley or rookie A.J. Green couldn't handle. But this isn't about what we think either. The Bengals will want contingency plans and paying for an experience wide receiver, from their perspective, may benefit the team than total inexperience across the board.
In our heart of hearts, we believe that ultimately Chad Ochocinco won't be with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012. And we're surely not arguing for him to stay. But you know the Bengals as well as I do. Would it really surprise you if he played for Cincinnati in 2012?