T.O a No Go in Cincy

After the Cincinnati Bengals said no to free agent receiver Terrell Owens, you have to wonder if there will be any other opportunities for him in the NFL

An interesting subplot to the 2010 NFL Free Agency period has been the plight of former league superstar Terrell Owens trying o find a new team.  While the past week has seen receivers like Kevin Walter (Texans), Antonio Bryant (Bengals), Nate Burelson (Lions), Anquan Boldin (Ravens) and others finding homes, the player that goes by the NFL’s most famous initials, T.O, has found lukewarm interest at best on the open market.  In fact the Bengals just decided when weighing T.O versus sometimes problem player Bryant that they would rather take their chances with the former Bucs castoff.

Owens, who is 36 and will be 37 in December, maybe fighting an uphill battle as time and his reputation may have finally catch up with him.  Over the years, the Niners, Eagles, and Cowboys have all had to balance Owens’ shenanigans (petulant lockerroom presence and post-touchdown celebrations) against his incredible on the field performance before finally saying “enough”.  And now the NFL, which is a “What have you done for me lately” league, may finally be telling the six-time Pro Bowl player that he has reached the point in his career where he is not worth the “headaches” that he brings to the table. 

Last season, T.O. while playing for the Buffalo Bills really seemed to finally be showing signs of slowing down despite looking in tremendous shape.  Playing on a 1-year, $6.5 million contract, Owens struggled to beat press coverage and his numbers sagged compared to his final season with the Dallas Cowboys — 69 catches for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2008 to 55 catches for 829 yards (15.1 ypc) with five touchdowns in Buffalo.  Some wanted to point to the Bills’ offensive line and multiple quarterbacks as the main reasons for T.O’s decline, but he clearly is having trouble getting separation from sticky young corners at this stage in his illustrious career. 

In further looking at Owens’ 2009 production, there clearly is a huge spike from his best game of the season in a 18-15 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 11. Taking advantage of the Jags playing without injured No. 1 corner Rashean Mathis, Owens had 9 receptions for 197 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown of 98 yards (Bills’ record) came when T.O took advantage of rookie corner Tyron Brackenridge getting caught looking into the backfield — high-stepped the last 20 yards into the end zone.  So let’s see, taking away a 9-catch, 197-yard and 1 touchdown performance, T.O had 46 catches for 632 yards (13.7 ypc) and 4 TDs in starting fifteen other games.

Owens said via his Twitter about his recent unsuccessful free agency visit to Cincy, “I wanna thank (team owner) Mike Brown & the coaching staff 4 the visit along w/the possible opportunity 2 play w/carson & 85. I enjoyed the visit.”  Unfortunately for Owens after weeks of Ochocinco lobbying for his buddy to play with the Bengals, team officials felt a younger more explosive receiver was a better signing.   However T.O in addressing Ochocinco on Twitter still believes that he still can get it done and that they could have had something special. He said to No. 85, “I’m en route back 2 LA imagining wht WE could hv done 2gether!! Holy delta skymiles Robin! U talk about unstoppable!!”

The landing spots for Owens seem to be getting smaller and smaller, plus that is even before the NFL Draft in April that includes a solid receiver class.  With Owens recently being told “No Thanks” by the Bengals, it now looks like he and other veteran receiver Torry Holt maybe waiting for a training camp injury to get a call. Maybe while he is waiting, T.O can call his homegirls Mo and Kita to see if they are up for Season 2 of “The T.O Show”. 

However if this is the end of T.O in the NFL…Thanks for the “entertainment” over 15 seasons.  Owens’ Hall of Fame-worthy numbers currently stand at 1,006 catches for 14,951 yards (14.9 ypc) and 144 TDs.  He is currently ranked 6th all-time in career receptions and 3rd in receiving yards.


Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


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