This morning, the Patriots pulled off a blockbuster trade for disgruntled Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. This evening, the Patriots pulled off another blockbuster trade, this time for disgruntled Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. Within minutes of the Ochocinco trade, people began to claim that the Patriots had two new "reclamation projects."
Lets be clear on two things. First, Chad Ochocinco is not Albert Haynesworth. Second, Chad Ochocinco is not a "reclamation project." In Chad Ochocinco, the Patriots are getting a flashy player, no doubt. Chad Ochocinco loves to entertain and be in the spotlight. However, unlike Haynesworth, he has never been a slouch. He has never quit on his team. Motivating Chad Ochocinco to play is not an issue.
In fact, Chad Ochocinco's long publicized desire to play with the Patriots shows me exactly what his intentions are at this point in his football career: to win football games. Ochocinco has the utmost respect for the Patriots organization and Bill Belichick, and recently said he would essentially "shut up" if he were in a winning environment such as New England.
Then, there's the fact that not only did the Patriots acquire Ochocinco via trade, but they extended him by two years (he was originally scheduled to become a free agent in 2012). We don't know the details of that contract just yet, but it's pretty telling to me that not only is Bill Belichick trading for the guy, but he's also extending his contract meaning he will likely be a Patriot beyond 2011.
The question now becomes: what does Ochocinco have to offer the Patriots?
Of course, we can't answer that question exactly. However, he's certainly has enough left in the tank to be an impact player for the Patriots. The Patriots desperately need a deep option at wide receiver. While Ochocinco might not be the speedster he once was, I think he's still skilled enough to make some deep plays for the team. In addition, his craftiness as a route runner cannot be overlooked. He's still shifty and is still great at going out and catching the football.
I don't expect Johnson to be playing 100% of the snaps for the Patriots. However, he will be right up at the top of the depth chart with Wes Welker and Deion Branch, and will give the Patriots a legitimate option to take some of the pressure off Tom Brady.