While NFL fans eagerly await word on either a new labor agreement, an end to the lockout, and the end of free agency, speculation as to where the impending free agents will go is all there really is to talk about right now across the NFL. One name that has been bubbling up around the Patriots is that of none other than WR Chad Ochocinco of the Cincinnati Bengals. Ochocinco is not set to be a free agent, but the popular thought around the NFL is that he has worn out his welcome with the Bengals and will be either traded or released. Bill Belichick has been on record speaking highly of Ocho, having coached him in the Pro Bowl, and Chad has always spoken very highly of his respect for the Hooded One. They have even been recorded as having a playful back-and-forth before a game. Is a Chad Ochocinco end zone celebration a free-agent signing away?
Peter King from Sports Illustrated thinks that Chad’s a natural fit in New England. Belichick took on Randy Moss and, according to King, Chad’s got a much stronger work ethic despite his antics. Belichick should be able to maximize his talent. Patriots WR Wes Welker was asked about the possibility of Chad Ochocinco wearing a Patriots uniform, and he had this to say:
“That’s up to the coaches. I think he’d be fine. I think he’s pretty harmless. He does all the extra stuff that I’m sure Bill is not too fond of. It’s never anything too bad. You never know.”
That’s the problem. The “extra stuff.” I think Chad still has some gas left in the tank and in the right situation, he could put up decent numbers again. Perhaps not his former Pro Bowl numbers, but solid numbers. However, after dealing with Randy Moss’ antics at the beginning of last season, I don’t see the Pats dealing with Chad’s antics. Sure, they’re funny from a distance, but when they’re disrupting your locker room, they’re not as funny anymore. There’s a reason that Carson Palmer does not want to play in Cincinnati anymore, and it wouldn’t surprise me if playing with two diva receivers is part of it. With the team still getting younger and letting the second- and third-year guys make their mark, I don’t think there’s room for a veteran at any position expect maybe outside linebacker. Especially not one with off-field baggage.
If Chad agreed to cut the soccer, bull riding, reality TV shows, and bulletin board material, then maybe it would work. But it’s that stuff that makes Chad, Chad, and I don’t see him changing any time soon.