Ten more thoughts about the Seahawks signing Terrell Owens
Here's my column on the Seahawks acquiring the rights to the T.O. sideshow. As usual, I have several dozen more thoughts on the situation. But I'll limit it to 10 for my and your sanity.
- This makes me more concerned about both the younger receivers and Sidney Rice's health. Terrell Owens does fill a need for the Seahawks: a physical receiver who cornerbacks can't jam easily and who is a threat to gain additional yardage after he catches the ball. If he's healthy and still has it, he's a big-play threat you can get the ball to in a variety of ways. That's a hole on this team, and that's why the Seahawks also have Braylon Edwards in camp. But bringing in Owens also says something greater about the receiving corps: The younger receivers aren't inspiring much confidence. (Which is interesting because they're the same young receivers who did just enough to help the Seahawks turn around their season in the second half a year ago. And I still like that group.) And Rice, the would-be No. 1 receiver who missed much of last season with shoulder and concussion problems, is still a health concern. It makes no sense to take such a chance if there aren't multiple receiving issues that worry the Seahawks.
- Owens will make this team and be an important part of the passing game. And depending on T.O. can be a scary thing. The Seahawks will probably keep six receivers on the roster, and it seems one of those spots is earmarked for Owens or Edwards. As I wrote a few sentences ago, their talents fill a hole. But having both players would be difficult to manage long term, unless both have incredible preseasons. And if it's a battle between the two, I'm picking Owens, even though he is nine years older than Edwards. I'd pick Owens even if the strategy isn't to guarantee one spot to a physical veteran receiver. He's too competitive and the Seahawks are too green at receiver for Owens not to seize this opportunity. In fact, the Seahawks will wind up relying on him to be a consistent contributor, though I don't think he'll put up gaudy numbers. That's the frightening part -- needing T.O. -- because he's so mercurial.
- There is an upside to one year of T.O., though. But no more than one year. Owens usually impresses during the first year with a new team. Ask Philadelphia. Ask Dallas. San Francisco loved him early on, too. He didn't play great during his one year in Buffalo, but as far as we know, he wasn't a major problem. Same with Cincinnati. There are two sides to T.O., and sometimes the bad doesn't come out until later. If that's the case, the Seahawks could wind up looking good.
- Owens isn't a follower and tends to create factions, and that could be bad if the Seahawks don't pick a quarterback who can galvanize the team. This is my greatest concern. I don't think Owens will be pulling out Sharpies on "Monday Night Football" or yelling at his quarterback on the sideline or getting into physical confrontations with teammates. But if he plays well enough to gain some clout, which he easily could do on a young team, then he'll have the influence to turn some players against the starting quarterback if he likes the backup better. If he causes a problem, it's likely to be very covert, but that's still troubling. The Seahawks have a delicate situation at QB, and it'll only take a little resistance to cause a problem, especially if the winner of the three-man competition between Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson struggles. And it's almost inevitable that the starter will struggle some.
- Yes, I'm skeptical, but I'm also fascinated. T.O. is a Hall of Famer, in my opinion. His career numbers are incredible: 1,078 career receptions, 15,934 yards, 153 touchdowns. He's charismatic. He's a physical freak. He plays hard. He's a great interview when he's not blaming the media for his problems. And then he has his dark side, a seemingly uncontrollable penchant for creating mayhem. He is a columnist's dream, and I'm going to enjoy this. I don't know how it'll work out for the Seahawks, but I'm going to enjoy this.
- Practice just got a lot more competitive, which Pete Carroll will love. The receiver competition is already hot, and so are the daily wars between the wideouts and the Seahawks' aggressive, physical and brash cornerbacks. Adding Edwards to the mix took things up a notch. Adding T.O. will take it up five notches. There will be a lot of jawing back and forth between receivers and defensive backs, and practice will be a great show.
- Despite the low risk, this move reeks of desperation. Clearly, the Seahawks are scrambling to find an answer, and they were willing to turn to a 38-year-old with baggage who hasn't played an NFL game since December 2010. No team had come close to signing Owens until the Seahawks gave him a tryout Monday. There's a reason for that. The Seahawks are taking a risk that 31 other teams didn't dare to entertain.
- T.O. will be motivated, and the Seahawks might get the best of him in performance and attitude. Well, T.O. is desperate, too. He wants to end his career in the right fashion. And because he takes care of his body with such diligence, I think he still has some game left. But he'll need to adjust to being a true complementary player and not a focal point.
- Even if T.O. is a good citizen, there will be drama of some sort. Owens makes news in a variety of ways. Remember the Hydrocodone incident in 2006? Remember when he spit in DeAngelo Hall's face and when he danced on the star in Dallas and when he had the bizarre "Next Question" press conference with former agent Drew Rosenhaus? There's always drama with T.O. Always. Just hope that it's relatively mild.
- Thirty-five receptions for 450 yards and four touchdowns is a good baseline expectation. Actually, I think he'll outperform this, but I think that's good place to set the minimum expectations. If he makes the team, he's going to play a lot, and he's going to get open. And remember that the Seahawks only had three receivers (Doug Baldwin, Ben Obomanu and Golden Tate) catch at least 35 passes last season. I wouldn't be surprised if T.O. caught 50 passes for 700 yards and scored eight touchdowns -- which would make him an undeniable success. When healthy, he's that talented, even as he nears 40. The concern is whether is production will warrant his distraction and whether he'll admit that he's an old player now who is best suited to play a limited role.