Many say he’s over the hill, finished, while some say he still has game left in him. He’s one of the most controversial players to ever hit the National Football League. Love him or hate him though, Terrell Owens has been one of the largest topics of debate in the NFL for the past decade, and is currently out of work. With training camp drawing near and the pre- and regular seasons just on the horizon, speculation has arisen about where T.O. will take his game this year. However, there isn’t exactly a line outside Owens’ door waiting for his services.
Owens has spent 14 years in the NFL, and seems to have left a wake of destruction after every move. He has played for four different teams and not only burned every bridge he had made, but he also pushed his teammates onto the bridge, cut the lines, torched it, and urinated on the ashes. From posing with his ego at midfield of Cowboy Stadium, to publicly deriding his quarterback, to sit ups in his driveway, to crying in an interview, to blaming everyone on the offense but himself, Terrell Owens has made sure to make plenty of enemies in the NFL.[pullquote]Terrell Owens has made sure to make plenty of enemies in the NFL.[/pullquote]
Yet there’s something to be said about his remaining talents. No, the T.O. that made the miracle catch in San Fran and ran wild on the Patriots in the Super Bowl doesn’t exist anymore, but that’s not to say Owens still can’t play. The fact is, talent is always at a premium in the NFL and T.O. still very much has the capability to be a #2 receiver, if not the #1, on many teams. Owens did catch 55 passes last year, for 829 yards and 5 TDs. Much like the NBA’s Allen Iverson, Owens can be a major headache off the field, but when it’s time to work, he’ll show commitment. It’s not T.O.’s effort that worries teams, so much as the results and ensuing media circus.
So this begs the question: are there teams out there that would consider signing Terrell Owens to play in 2010-11? There are definitely some situations that would fit his talents better, and might actually make sense, but there are others that simply have no chance in…well, you know where. That’s why we’re going to break it down into tiers: from those teams that won’t even consider kicking the tires, to ones that may consider it if depth is an issue, to the teams that really should, despite his ego, look into signing #81.
Absolutely No Chance
San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets
These are the teams that will most certainly avoid Owens at all costs. See a trend here? They’re either teams T.O. has already played for (and ruined relations with) or ones that are already well-set at the wide receiver position. The Packers, Colts, and Saints already have an arsenal of weapons both on the outside and in the backfield, meaning they really have no need for T.O. and his ego. Teams like the Dolphins and Ravens recently acquired a deep-threat, #1 caliber receiver. Unless a major injury causes a sudden drop in depth, these teams will have no part in the T.O. circus.
Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A lot of the NFL’s cellar teams fall under this category for one simple reason: they don’t have much talent. The Browns, Chiefs, Rams, and Bucs have all struggled to find that true #1 and could use T.O.’s talents. However, all four would run the risk of damaging their developing quarterbacks by signing Owens and his need for passes. The offense-oriented Cards and Texans might consider T.O., while teams like the Steelers, Broncos, and Giants are on the cusp of the playoffs and could use a jolt of offense. But with their own recent player issues, T.O. is merely a possibility.
Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars
With a young offense that lacks many veteran presences, T.O. could be a logical fit in Tennessee. Vince Young could use an experienced wideout to continue the progression he made last year, and Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt might benefit from the on-field attention Owens would draw. The only question is if the Titans are willing to risk their sanity by signing him.
The Chargers seem like a real possibility as well, with Vincent Jackson missing several games to start the season. Phillip Rivers is used to having plenty of weapons to throw to, and with LaDanian Tomlinson finally gone, T.O. might be able to step up the offense.
New England is perhaps the most oft-heard name associated with Owens so far this offseason, but Belichick and co. have kept quiet for the most part on their intentions. Randy Moss, once quite the persona, has been corralled in New England and has returned to his once-great form. Therefore, it makes sense to believe that the Pats could take another flyer on Owens to bolster an offense that will be missing 2009-10 NFL receptions leader Wes Welker.[pullquote]Owens may not be opposed to joining a somewhat lesser team in the hopes for a lead role.[/pullquote]
The Jaguars may be an interesting fit as well. As evidenced by his time in Buffalo, Owens may not be opposed to joining a somewhat lesser team in the hopes for a lead role. Only with Jacksonville, Owens would be landing in a much more stable situation. David Garrard is an accurate QB, while Mike Sims-Walker burst onto the NFL scene last year and Maurice Jones-Drew continues to play like an All-Pro. T.O. might find that he could be a pretty good complementary piece in Jacksonville, and could make the Jags more competitive.
Most Likely Destinations
Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bears seem like one of the better fits for Terrell Owens going into the 2010-11 season. Mike Martz now sits as the Offensive Coordinator in Chicago and will be willing to air it out with Jay Cutler manning the helm. The Bears have gone years without a solid receiving corps, meaning Owens could step in and contribute right away. With Hester running circles around defenders, Owens could open up the other side for a big year.
Most would question Atlanta if they signed T.O., due to concerns about protecting QB Matt Ryan, but Owens could be a match. Ryan and Roddy White have established a great report over the last two seasons, and Owens could stretch the field on the other side. If Michael Turner returns to form, Atlanta could rise up to contend with the potent New Orleans offense.
As for the Panthers, there may not be much to lose in signing T.O. Already possessing a great running tandem in DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart, giving Matt Moore (and maybe Jimmy Clausen, eventually) another weapon and Steve Smith a partner in crime could only help challenge the Saints and Falcons.
Does any franchise seem like a better fit on the outside than the Oakland Raiders? Owens’ bad streak would fit well in silver and black, but truthfully, his game might also fit the Raiders too. Newly acquired Jason Campbell would certainly like another receiver while Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey develop. With a T.O.-improved offense added to a surprisingly sound defense, Oakland could actually fulfill coach Tom Cable’s words and make some noise in the AFC West.[pullquote]Does any franchise seem like a better fit on the outside than the Oakland Raiders? Owens’ bad streak would fit well in silver and black.[/pullquote]
After the Raiders, the next best-sounding fit for Terrell Owens would probably be the Bengals. They’ve already had their share of off-field issues, which may mean they could handle T.O. A large personality already sits across the field in Chad Johnson (I refuse to call him Ochocinco), but he might actually welcome T.O. on the offense. The Bengals need all they can get in a division that includes the Steelers and Ravens, and Owens could be key.
Where Owens Should Sign
The Bears need to start surrounding Jay Cutler with some viable options, in case Matt Forte continues to disappoint. The passing game needs to be more dynamic, and although he’s a headcase, Terrell Owens could provide just that. Starting with Hester, Cutler’s options immediately improve and the Bears might be able to keep up with Minnesota and Green Bay in the NFC North.
Where Owens Will Sign
If any team in the NFL has the track record that would fit signing Terrell Owens, it’s the Raiders. Al Davis has made some questionable moves in the past, but surprisingly, this wouldn’t be the worst. Owens may not be a Top 20 receiver anymore, but he can still play at the NFL level and compete. If the Raiders want to be relevant, they need more firepower. Of the limited options available, Owens isn’t necessarily the worst. And let’s face it, Owens and Oakland are a pretty good match.
Truth be told, every NFL franchise is going to have its reservations about bringing Terrell Owens and his ego into the locker room. He’s been known as a cancer, and if history has taught us anything, it’s that it repeats itself. No matter where Owens goes, he will eventually snap and leave his team worse off. Perhaps that’s why the Falcons and Panthers steer clear, to protect their young quarterbacks; or the Bengals just can’t make the leap of faith, because they figure after winning their division a year ago, they can still compete without a migraine.
Only time will tell where T.O. ends up, but there’s one thing you can bank on: it’s going to be news no matter which colors he’s wearing out next.