FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 11: Chad Ochocinco #85 of the New England Patriots waits for the start of a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
As this piece is published, the Bengals do not have a clear cut favorite to become the number two receiver yet. The Patriots released former Bengal and six time pro bowler Chad Ochocinco today, and there has been the predictable discussion on could/should the Bengals bring Ochocinco back to Cincinnati.
Don't count on it. According to ESPN AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley, an Ochocinco-Bengals reunion is unlikely. Hensley cites the improved locker room and Ochocinco's strained relationship with head coach Marvin Lewis as the two main reasons that he will not be brought back. The locker room has improved to a point where bringing Ochocinco back would likely upset many players. Andrew Whitworth recently inferred that the Bengals did not miss having the "me first" personalities on the team:
"The character is different; the priorities are different. We're just not blowing smoke saying we want to be a good football team. A lot of guys actually work that way, prepare that way, have priorities that way and have the character to live that way. It's just different. I think this locker room has proven time and time again it's a strong one. It's a different deal now."
The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy chimed in with an opinion of his own on the matter shortly after Hensley. He agrees with Hensley, though his argument is primarily based on declining production, not team chemistry.
Even if the Bengals considered bringing the diva receiver back, would he even be an upgrade over others vying for the number two job? The team is giving younger players like Mohamed Sanu and Armon Binns the first shot to win the number two position. If Sanu, Binns, or Brandon Tate cannot win the job, then and only then will the Bengals likely look to a veteran.
Even in this case, someone like Braylon Edwards would likely be a better option than Ochocinco. The former Bengal struggled to grasp the Patriots playbook last season and also had been struggling once again during this season's OTA's. This makes many wonder if he has mentally checked out. Does no.85 have the work ethic to be successful? If he does, it probably won't be with the Bengals.