Marvin Lewis was right: Chad Ochocinco doesn't have a contract option. That's because the Bengals already picked it up at an undisclosed time, The Cincinnati Enquirer confirmed Friday through a copy of the contract file.
"There is no option," Lewis, the Bengals' coach, said Wednesday on ESPN Radio. "Not anything like that people keep speaking about. He's just flat under contract."
Ochocinco's contract status became a running subplot during the final weeks of Cincinnati's disappointing 4-12 season. The six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver had a $6 million option for 2011, the final year in an extension that he signed in 2006.
Ochocinco isn't a lock to return, however: All bonuses have been paid out, meaning the Bengals could trade or release the receiver, knowing all the guaranteed money already is gone.
Ochocinco has spent his entire 10-year career with the Bengals, becoming the franchise's all-time leading receiver. Teamed with fellow reality star Terrell Owens this season, Ochocinco saw his production dip, catching 67 passes for 831 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games.
Ochocinco's relationship with Lewis crumbled after the coach's late-season comments that the receiver was "being his mopey self" while dealing with an injury.
Earlier this week, Ochocinco seemed less than thrilled with the news that Lewis had signed a two-year extension to remain in Cincinnati.
"I have nothing to say about that," Ochocinco said on Sporting News Radio (per Sports Radio Interviews). "I'm not the owner of the team. My hands are out of that situation. The only thing I can remember, as of right now, about Coach Lewis, is Coach Lewis throwing me under the bus. When it was time to play the Chargers, knowing that I was hurt. Thatâs the only thing I can remember at this point."
With Ochocinco under contract for a new season, it remains to be seen if coach and receiver can co-exist.