The New England Patriotsare cutting ties with Chad Ochocinco, bringing an end to this experiment after one painfully unproductive season (15 catches for 276 yards and one touchdown). This begs the question: Will Ochocinco find a tough market in free agency like Terrell Owens, or will he be snapped up quickly by a new team?
I don't think Ochocinco will quickly land with a new team. There are several reasons why, but here are the main three:
1) Very few teams are interested in distractions and sideshows. Despite being on his best behavior for Bill Belichick, there is still a concern that he will turn back to his attention-craving persona of the past.
2) He has lost his explosiveness. That is the trait that made him so dangerous during his productive years in Cincinnati. He was never a technician as a route runner.
3) It wasn't a secret that Ochocinco struggled with the playbook in New England. That is going to turn off a lot of teams that are looking for a veteran to work with their younger receivers.
Chad Ochocinco will have a tough time finding an immediate suitor on the open market. The buzz coming out of New England regarding his inability to master the offense will hurt his chances. (As will the dismal production from 2011.)
Ochocinco will eventually get another opportunity, but he will have to prove his worth in workouts before signing with a team.
I would not be surprised if it was over. Ochocinco's physical skills have diminished, and he is not a disciplined enough route runner to overcome this decline. Also, when you sign a veteran receiver at the end of his career, you want him to be a leader. Chad is not a leader. He is not a starter and can't help on special teams.
I think this is it for Ochocinco. I would not sign him.
Releasing Ochocinco now might give him a shot at latching on with a new team, but it might not be until training-camp injuries shorten a team's depth chart.
A 34-year-old receiver who could not make a significant impact on a wideout-bereft New England squad last year can't be expected to become more than a complementary piece.
Ochocinco won't necessarily be a difference-maker anymore, but he shouldn't struggle to find work. Terrell Owens is a bigger malcontent. The Boston Globe reported that Ochocinco looked great physically this offseason. He looked "very fast" and was in shape. He just couldn't figure out the Patriots' offense.
I don't think Ochocinco is a quality starter anymore. There's no guarantee he'll even make the team that he joins. But he's going to get another chance for a team like the Jaguars, Dolphins, or Cowboys. The 49ers reportedly pursued Ochocinco last year before his trade to the Patriots, but it's hard to imagine them trying to fit him in with Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. The Raiders also reportedly had interest, but that was likely because of former head coach Hue Jackson. Now Jackson is in Cincinnati, and there's no way Marvin Lewis will want Ochocinco back.