There's been a lot of speculation about the immediate future of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. Most experts believe that neither of the two will be playing for the Bengals in 2011. Even Bengals backup/starter-in-limbo quarterback Jordan Palmer doubts that either of the wide receivers will be back in Bengals uniforms in 2011.
"I think everybody’s kind of assuming they’re not going to be back," Jordan Palmer said.
Who really knows, though?
I think it's safe to assume that TO won't be back in a Bengals uniform, especially after he openly criticised the Bengals front office and owner Mike Brown for being the root of the Bengals' problems that caused them to go 4-12 in the 2010 season.
What about Ochocinco, though?
Right after the 2010 season ended, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis did say that there wouldn't be a question that the Bengals would pick up Ochocinco's $6 million option (rather than let him walk away for about half that amount), but that doesn't necessarily mean that he'll be on the opening day roster. But, that report came on the same day that Ochocinco said he wasn't sure if he could coexist anymore with Lewis. And then, of course, came the war between the two, fought through the press and Twitter (guess which one used Twitter). I think it's safe to say, actually, that nobody really has any clue if Ochocinco will be back in 2011.
While Chad Ochocinco is the Bengals all time leading receiver, his production has gradually fallen over the past few years. He was drafted in 2001. That year, he played in 12 games, had 329 yards and one touchdown. Then from 2002 until 2007, he didn't have a year in which he had less than 1,000 yards, accruing up 1,440 yards (2007). He wasn't necessarily known for his speed, not that he was slow by any means, but he was known for running some of the best routes of any wide receiver in the NFL. Even when he was double teamed, he seemed to get open.
Then, after 2007 (just a year after Twitter was launched... not that it has anything to do with this), Ochocinco's production went straight downhill. He only had 540 yards in 2007, just barely made it over a thousand yards in 2008 (1,047) and had 831 yards in 2010. When it comes to productivity, Ochocinco is definitely slipping.
There have been other problems too. Ochocinco has, in recent years, repeatedly called out his head coach, challenging him to a cage match in one case, and has been a distraction in the locker room. A locker room distraction that produces can be tolerated, but one that doesn't shouldn't be. The Bengals receiving corps and the soon to be starting quarterback, whoever he may be, are going to be young and impressionable, the Bengals may want to clear the locker room of any distracting non-producers before they have a chance to poison the rest of the team.
Then there's the draft. If the Bengals decide to select a wide receiver like A.J. Green in the first round, will they really have a need for Ochocinco anymore -- especially with the recent blooming of Jerome Simpson? It wouldn't make much sense to allow a player to walk away for a few million dollars, but it makes less sense to let him stay, be unproductive and pay him $6 million, doesn't it?
While most analysts say that Ochocinco is done in Cincinnati, in reality, the only people who have any clue of what's really going to happen are Marvin Lewis and Mike Brown. We may know more once the first round of the draft comes to an end next Thrusday night (April 28), but I doubt we'll know for sure until the lockout comes to an end. We'll just have to sit back and wait to see what happens until then.