Beat the Odds, Chad, Not Your Wife
There’s not a lot of 34-year-old wide receivers in the NFL. It’s a heavily youth-filled position. But right now, that’s the least of Chad Johnson’s issues as he attempts to find another team to offer him a contract for his services.
Johnson, formerly known as Chad Ochocinco (and Chad Johnson, version 1.0), was recently cut by the Miami Dolphins after he allegedly head-butted his wife Evelyn Lozada during an “altercation,” formerly known as wife-beating.
Has his playing career come to an end?
In light of all the teams with question marks at the receiver position, combined with the fact that the league is loaded with domestic violence offenders, it’s hard to imagine that Johnson won’t resurface somewhere. And if/when he does, he’ll no doubt be the first to tweet about it.
Johnson comes with baggage. He is a shameless self-promoter and self-proclaimed victim of the “No Fun League.” Known more for his off-the-field antics (and by off-the-field, I mean mostly the sidelines or locker room) than for his six years of Pro Bowl-caliber play, Johnson might be more of a distraction than he’s worth. Still, the NFL is a win-at-all-costs league, and there are teams scrambling to find capable playmakers. The Seattle Seahawks recently signed 38-year-old Terrell Owens, who has even more baggage than Johnson. It’s all about winning.
So what teams might be in the market for Johnson?
Start by ruling out the Seahawks. It’s highly doubtful we’ll see the former Cincinnati Bengals teammates reunite, considering how poorly that worked out the first time.
The Oakland Raiders are generally the first team that comes to mind in any discussion of nabbing end-of-career players with off-the-field issues. But that was the Al Davis Raiders. This new organization under the leadership of general manager Reggie McKenzie is looking for character guys, not workout warriors or track stars – sorry, Chad.
Still, the Raiders are very young at the position – Darrius Heyward-Bey is the most veteran of the squad, with three years ‘experience under his belt. Don’t rule them out.
Another team that’s light on receiving talent is the Cleveland Browns, featuring Josh Cribbs, Mohammed Massaquoi and Greg Little. Additionally, the team will be starting a rookie quarterback in Brandon Weeden. They’re desperate in Cleveland, and that bodes well for Johnson.
The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t sure what they’ve got in first-round rookie Justin Blackmon. The DUI before training camp didn’t put anyone’s mind at ease that they’ve solved their receiving corps woes. The signing of Laurent Robinson was a good start, but after that, the depth chart is a virtual “Who’s he” of receivers.
Another team that might take a chance on Johnson is the St. Louis Rams. Coach Jeff Fisher isn’t afraid to take on difficult personalities, and the team has significant needs at the position after Danny Amendola and rookie Brian Quick, who is expected to contribute in a big way.
Even if Johnson doesn’t find a home before the season begins, there’s a good chance he will before it ends. Injuries are a brutal reality, and teams that might have no interest in Johnson whatsoever in August, might be scrambling to sign him in October. Add to that the fact that there are very few other unsigned free agent receivers on the market -- Plaxico Burress being the biggest name out there – and suddenly, Chad Johnson is a viable possibility.