[Editor's Note: Please join me in welcoming two new staff members to Pats Pulpit this morning, Jared Stegall and Brian Mannell (Jack'sAxe)! Jared is coming on as an Editor after previous stints at SB Nation Boston and Over the Monster. If you don't remember, Jared was also a contributing writer here at Pats Pulpit back in 2010-11. Now, he'll be returning with a bigger role in mind. Brian is joining the Pats Pulpit staff as a moderator. He's been a valued member of Pats Pulpit since before I even became Managing Editor, and it's awesome to have him aboard in this capacity. -Greg]
It really doesn't take an outsider to realize that Chad Ochocinco was no good in a New England Patriots uniform last season. He wasn't just bad on his terms, he was historically bad.
With a lot of hype surrounding the six-time pro bowler heading into the season, Ochocinco failed to deliver, as he only caught only 15 passes for 276 yards and had a single touchdown to go along with it.... and earning six million dollars to do it. Wait, am I missing something here? The only thing he probably did good last season was try and be Tom Brady's best buddy and promote the very team that caused him to have career low numbers.
I know I'm a typical Boston fan, where if something doesn't work out in it's first year, it'll never work, and I know I could be jumping to conclusions to early here. But, Chad Ochocinco just wasn't a fit in what the Patriots offensive scheme. He believed in the Patriots way, but it just didn't believe in him.
Nick Caserio and Bill Belichick know this, and have been busy in searching for guys that do fit the system. The Patriots and Brandon Lloyd ended the worst kept secret in the NFL by agreeing to a three-year contract. As many know by now, Lloyd, unlike Ochocinco, is a perfect fit into the Patriots offen; a system he's flourished in during the past two years with new offense coordinator Josh McDaniels. They also signed former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez and former Patriot Dante Stallworth for depth purposes.
With these additions, it would appear that the six-time pro bowl receiver is on his way out of New England, right? Well, the media seems to think so, but he doesn't. Over the weekend, NBC's Pro Football Talk tweeted an article about there being increasing talk that the Patriots will part ways with Ochocinco. He didn't appear to be feeling the heat.
Ocho could either have received assurance from Patriots management that he really is safe, or he could be completely oblivious and setting himself for a blindside. I could see it either way.
With that being said, let's look at the argument for keeping and for cutting Chad Ochocinco.
Argument For Patriots To Keep Chad Ochocinco
According to Tom Brady, no one was more frustrated with Chad Ochocinco's struggles than himself, and he slowly became one of the hardest workers during practice all season. His trouble was that the Patriots playbook was too foreign to him to the point where it was confusing, which caused him to struggle. In no way do I think he did this for the extra publicity and just to get out of Cincinnati.
The man is a hard worker, and his career proves so. Over his 10 seasons with the Bengals, Ochocinco averaged about 70 catches a season and recorded seven 1,000 yard receiving seasons and scored anywhere between 7-10 touchdowns on average during that span. The man is no slouch; he's a six time pro bowler that found a way to make it work while playing for a struggling franchise.
There's no denying that Ochocinco shouldn't be considered for a top role in the receiving corps, but the soon to be 34-year old could have something left in the tank. If the team is able to restructure his contract with him to push his base salary to a number around three million a year, he's worth a training camp invite.
If it still isn't a fit, there's no harm in the Pats simply cutting ties with Ochocinco during training camp. If it isn't a fit, it isn't a fit. But like I tell Red Sox fans when they doubt Carl Crawford, it's just his first year here! Like Ocho did, Crawford posted career lows in his first year in Boston. We seem to forget this, but athletes are human!
Argument For Patriots To Cut Chad Ochocinco
Simply cutting ties with Ochocinco makes the most since for me if I'm thinking fiscally. He stunk last year, and doesn't deserve six million dollars to catch 15 passes over the entirety of the season. Case and point.
By cutting him, the Patriots could use that six million in other places, like putting it towards acquiring a safety or even a pass rusher. With Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker slotted in as the starting receivers next season, it makes no sense at all for the team to keep Ochocinco on the team without at least asking him to restructure, something that hasn't been agreed upon up till this point.
Not to mention, he struggled to keep up with the fast paced Patriots offense and even had to have assistance from teammates with the design of certain plays. It doesn't mean he's being lazy and doesn't care, it's just that it's so different than what he's used to, and it isn't just clicking with him.
With the Pats adding not only a Brandon Lloyd to fill the role that was intended for him, he now will have to battle the likes of Gonzalez, Stallworth and Tyquan Underwood for playing time behind Welker, Lloyd and most likely Deion Branch. Not to mention, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez will likely take away targets from the receivers, which could leave the Patriots with a six million dollar number four receiver who will see maybe one-two targets a game. Thanks, but no thanks.