August 14, 2012
The Miami Dolphins officially ended the Chad Ochocinco/Chad Johnson experiment on Monday, following breaking news that Johnson was involved in a domestic dispute with his wife. Johnson reportedly head-butted his wife, and with that, the Dolphins were ready to move on.
That should tell us a lot about the Dolphins, as moving on from a still-speedy Johnson meant rolling into the 2012 NFL season with Brian Hartline and Davone Bess as their top two wide receivers. It probably should tell us a lot about what they thought about Johnson, too. Perhaps he just wasn’t impressing in camp. After all, he dropped a pass and didn’t record a catch in his only preseason game.
And it wouldn’t be too crazy to imagine that being the case, considering the Cincinnati Bengals let him walk two years ago, and the New England Patriots released him after a lost 2011 season in which he caught just 15 balls.
But is his career really over? Most NFL receivers start to slow down at Johnson’s age (34), and many are completely washed up even before that. So, now any NFL team that could have any remote interest in Johnson has to wonder; is Johnson a problem worth taking on, or is he just a problem with a big name?
I can’t be sure if Johnson is done in the league. Terrell Owens is 38 and has had numerous character issues at his many NFL stops, yet he has a job in with the Seattle Seahawks as this article is being written. That’s at least encouraging, and it forces me to think that if Johnson still has the speed and quickness to get it done, there has to be another team willing to give him a call. After all, there’s certainly some teams out there struggling enough at wide receiver to at least give it some thought.
I’m not saying anyone will, or that his career is over. I just think these four teams should at least look into what he’s got left and kick the tires, if only for a brief preseason stay:
New York Jets
New York is easily the most likely destination for Johnson to get one last shot, and if everything works out perfectly, he might even get another shot at a Super Bowl. The team missed out on Braylon Edwards and Terrell Owens and hasn’t shown any interest in bringing Plaxico Burress. They could also give Antonio Bryant or Mark Clayton a call, but Johnson looks like a logical fit. The team only has rookie Stephen Hill as their number two receiver, and he’s too raw to fully rely on. Johnson gives them a deep threat who has prove to be reliable in the past, and his presence could allow Santonio Holmes to operate out of the slot more. I thought this was a fit that would have made a ton of sense last year, but now that both the Jets and Johnson are out of options, it seems more perfect now than ever.
If Johnson still really has anything left, the Cowboys might want to listen to what he has to say. They know a thing or two about dealing with troubled wide receiver (Michael Irvin, Terrell Owens, Dez Bryant), and they’re currently in need of an upgrade at their third wide receiver spot. I like rookie Danny Coale and think Andre Holmes has some nice potential, but none of the guys they currently have can be trusted like Johnson could potentially be trusted. He may have worked out okay in Miami had this domestic issue never gone down, but in Dallas he’d be the fourth weapon in the passing game. This is a situation where he could potentially thrive, with little pressure. It’s also another location that could allow him to run deep into the playoffs.
This destination is less likely than the firs two, especially with former head coach Hue Jackson gone (he used to be Cincy’s offensive coordinator, too), but Carson Palmer is the starting quarterback and may or may not vouch for Johnson. That’s really the only chance Johnson has in garnering interest from Oakland – if Palmer desires his presence. He didn’t jump at the chance to get T.O., though, so that could be a telling sign. The Raiders do have a ton of talent and explosiveness at the wide receiver position, but they’re also pretty raw and inconsistent. Johnson could bring veteran leadership, while giving Palmer a trusted weapon he’s extremely familiar with.
The last option would be for Johnson go play with former Bengals teammate Jerome Simpson in Minnesota. The Vikings don’t like admitting their problems at the wide receiver position, but they clearly have them. Simpson will miss the first three games of the season due to a league suspension, Greg Childs is lost for the year with two torn patellar tendons, and Michael Jenkins’s knees still aren’t 100%. That means it’s Percy Harvin and a bunch of young guys will have to get it done for the first three weeks, and then Simpson will have to suddenly be a savior as the number two option after that. If the Vikes bring in a veteran like Johnson, both problems could potentially be solved in one move.
Again, it’s way too early to say whether or not Johnson has already played his last down, but there are definitely some teams that could use the old version of him. If he can get past this domestic dispute thing and prove he’s still got something, one of the teams mentioned above could give him one last shot.