Browns should sign Terrell Owens

Michael Moses

Before reading on, let’s pretend that the NFL season is a lock for this fall – not locked out, but a guaranteed season.

The Cleveland Browns’ upcoming season is perhaps the most promising in years. They have a young, talented and smart quarterback in Colt McCoy, going into his second season as a starter. They boast this year’s Madden NFL cover boy in bruising tailback Peyton Hillis. With new head coach Pat Shurmur leading the way, the Browns look like a team on the rise.

One aspect of the Browns that is lacking is the wide receiver position – furthermore, a veteran wide receiver.

Cleveland, enter a fellow AFC North villain, Terrell Owens.

In years past, Owens was known for coming into town with some baggage. This year, he’ll come in with extra cargo. Recent reports of a surgically repaired torn ACL would keep Owens off the football field until late October or early November. This throws up a definite red flag to teams across the NFL. Plus, T.O. isn’t quite a spring chicken – he’ll turn 38 in December.

Picking up Owens, who is a free agent as soon as the NFL lockout ends, would have both positives and negatives. In my opinion, the positives heavily outweigh the negatives. Here’s why:

Any other year, Owens wouldn’t be a good fit for the Browns. Going into the season, his arrival would be a distraction to the organization. Mini camps, training camp, the preseason, etc., would all center on the arrival of Owens, who is second all-time in touchdown receptions in the NFL. This year, however, the media won’t have those chances; he’ll be rehabbing his knee.

Those who aren’t familiar with Owens’ work ethic would be concerned with the injury. If you know anything about Terrell Owens, you know he remains in perfect condition year round. His work ethic is second to none. Even at his age, his body looks like an Under Armour mannequin, and above all, he always looks to prove people wrong.

Say he can’t make it back, and he’ll try even harder. Most likely, he will succeed.

For the amount of scrutiny Owens faces, he rarely has any problems off the field. Most of his antics come on the field (pom-poms, popcorn, Sharpies, etc.).

Let’s face it: he is on the downhill stretch of his Hall of Fame career, yet at the same time, he’s still extremely productive (72 catches, 983 yards, nine touchdowns in 2010). Even if he was to come back midseason and turn out to be unproductive, Owens can still serve as a teacher to young Cleveland receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie. These players would benefit from having his presence at practice, witnessing what it takes to be a 16-year NFL veteran.

Finally, consider the Colt McCoy factor. Don’t you think a young quarterback would like to throw to a guy like Terrell Owens? At 6’3”, 224 pounds, Owens is a big receiver with tremendous yards-after-catch potential. Currently, no player on the Browns roster can compete with the 37-year-old’s ability, ACL surgery or not.

The fact that Owens played in the AFC North last year with Cincinnati is an added plus. If Owens ends up in a Cleveland uniform, he wouldn’t have to get used to a “conference transition.” He already faced the Steelers and Ravens a combined four times last season, plus he practiced against the Bengals’ secondary for a year. This is slowly making more sense, huh?

Cleveland was injected with a boost of energy last year. The Browns lost some games down the stretch and ended with just five wins in 2010, but above all, they found long-term answers in players such as McCoy and Hillis. These long-term findings need to be mixed with some short-term risks.

The Browns have nothing to lose right now, being in the same division as Super Bowl contenders Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Adding one of the all-time greats in Terrell Owens, if the price is right, can only help a team like Cleveland – lockout pending, of course.

Michael Moses is a senior communication studies major. Contact him at [email protected].