After a productive 10-year run in Cincinnati that included six straight 1,000-yard seasons, Ochocinco was a non-factor during his one season in New England. His production was minuscule. He only caught 15 balls for 276 yards and one touchdown during the regular season, and then hauled in just one Tom Brady pass in three postseason games.
The decision to release Ochocinco has the media and football fans asking a lot of questions. Is Ochocinco done? Have his skills completely eroded to the point that he can't contribute for another team? Can he learn a complicated playbook? Was it just a bad fit in New England?
To get some answers for these questions, I reached out to seven different personnel executives or pro scouts who have studied Ochocinco. I asked them for their thoughts on his current value. Here is what each of them had to say:
1) This AFC executive was very brief and to the point: "We don't have any interest in him. He doesn't have any juice left and he's not smart enough to learn our offense."
2) This NFC pro scout was on the fence: "I do think he still has some life in his legs, but the mental concerns are what trouble me."
3) This AFC executive had a very interesting opinion: "I don't have a clue what you are going to get with him and neither does anybody else. He didn't show enough on tape last year to get a good feel for him."
4) This NFC pro scout had positive things to say: "I really liked him on 2010 tape with the Bengals. I was disappointed that our team didn't sign him. I think he still has something left."
5) This NFC executive was very critical: "He doesn't have much left. He has to play outside because he doesn't have the toughness to work in the middle of the field. He can't stretch the field anymore and he doesn't have any special teams value."
6) This NFC pro scout echoed a previous statement: "I liked him in 2010. I just don't think he was a fit in New England."
7) This NFC executive did extensive homework on Ochocinco's time in New England: "He was a great teammate. I was told he worked extremely hard and wasn't a distraction. When you watch the tape, he still has juice and he ran good routes. The biggest issue is the mental thing. You can watch him constantly line up in the wrong spot or forget to line up on the ball when he is the 'X' receiver. Simple stuff. This wasn't just an issue in New England either. He had some trouble in Cincinnati, as well."
As you can see, teams are all over the map in their evaluations of Ochocinco. Fortunately, Chad didn't need a majority of teams to believe in him: He only needed one. And that team is his hometown Miami Dolphins. Coach Joe Philbin confirmed Monday that the team "recently" worked him out, and NFL.com's Albert Breer and Steve Wyche reported later Monday that the receiver had signed a one-year deal.
Of all 32 NFL teams, Miami provides the best opportunity for Ochocinco to continue his career. After the trade of Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears, the Dolphins were left with the weakest receiving group in the entire league. Davone Bess, Miami's top returning pass catcher, is one of the league's best slot receivers, but he isn't an ideal outside weapon. The competition for the two outside spots is between Brian Hartline, Legedu Naanee and several unproven youngsters. That list of names isn't going to keep many NFL defensive coordinators up late at night.