Two blockbuster deals in the NFL recently went down, with the Buffalo Bills signing Terrell Owens and the Chiefs trading for Matt Cassel. What will be Owens' impact in Buffalo, and is the Cassel trade good for both the Patriots and the Chiefs?
It looked like Cassel's trade to the Chiefs would be the defining moment of the offseason, and it was, until Terrell Owens was cut by the Cowboys and quickly signed by the Bills. For the right to one of the NFL's most dynamic receivers, the Bills only had to give up $6.5 million over one year, and surprisingly didn't have to surrender their souls to the Devil. Even Mephistopheles cares not to deal with Owens, although he would gladly do so with Drew Rosenhaus, a relative, serving as his agent.
Owens' talent is such that teams in need of physical upgrades are able to look beyond, or ignore altogether, Owens' inevitable immature, child-like, and whiny behavior. Teams signing Owens give an even deeper meaning to the term "just win, baby." Emphasis on baby.
After months of hinting that Owens would return, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones dropped the bomb, announcing that Dallas was letting T.O. go. Jones justified his action, saying he was "heeding the advice of several people," which, in Jones' egocentric world, means he discussed the matter with each of the numerous mirrors in his mansion, of course after asking, "Who's the fairest of them all?"
So is this a good move for the Bills? Wisely, they signed Owens to a one-year deal, which should imply to Owens that there is limited, albeit hopeful, trust in his ability to be an attraction, and not a distraction. Even someone as shortsighted as Owens should realize that failure may result in his next contract being not yearly, but hourly. In short, for the Bills, it's a risk worth taking for a year.
Many have theorized that Owens won't find a blue collar town like Buffalo pleasing to his social and media needs. That may be just what Owens needs - a place where he can step out onto his driveway and start doing sit-ups without being swarmed by microphones and cameras. Buffalo is, above all things, a hockey town, so the sooner T.O. learns that a "hat trick" is a hockey term and not a touchdown celebration, he'll realize his true place in the city.
Owens' new teammates are saying all the right things to welcome him to the team. For God's sake, the last thing you want to do in this situation is step on any 'T.O.'s.' Bills quarterback Trent Edwards said he was "thrilled" to have Owens, then immediately put down the scripted comments sheet provided by the Buffalo front office and hastily called Tony Romo. Romo advised Edwards not to get too chummy with his starting tight end, and never to look Owens directly in the eyes, lest you lose the ability to speak your mind.
And what of coach Dick Jauron? What is he expecting to gain from the addition of Owens, besides a bleeding ulcer? Obviously, Jauron approved the move and, in speaking with Owens before finalizing the deal, must have been won over by T.O.'s ability to say the right things at the right time. In other words, Jauron was duped. Look Dickie, when T.O. claims he's a "team" player, that just means he plays on a team.
What's the final analysis? Again, Owens in a one-year deal will pay dividends, and he'll definitely give the Bills a physical receiver to complement speedy but small wideouts Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish. Owens will begin the season with a flourish, scoring 5 touchdowns in Buffalo's first three games. Then, when winter hits, and the Bills resort to their cold weather offense, Owens will get frustrated, feud with running back Marshawn Lynch, and will probably tweak a hamstring sometime in early November. He'll recover to finish the season strong, although we'll learn that Owens' issues with dropped passes are exacerbated by lake effect snow.
Final stats: 82 receptions, 1,100 yards receiving, 11 touchdowns, three sideline meltdowns, two uncomfortable locker room confrontations with ESPN's Ed Werder, and one near-brawl with Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff after a run-in in downtown Buffalo, in which both men ask the question, "Do you know who I am?" To which both reply, "No."
Meanwhile, Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel were traded to the Chiefs for KC's second-round pick (34th overall) in April's draft, a clear sign that New England is convinced that Tom Brady will fully recover from the knee injury that sidelined him for nearly all of 2008. On the surface, it seemed like the Patriots were giving away more than they were getting, leading many to quip that this was the most lopsided exchange in New England since Tom Brady picked up Giselle Bundchen after dumping Bridget Moynahan.
Others praised former New England general manager Scott Pioli, who assumed the same job in Kansas City in January, for maneuvering a beneficial trade for the Chiefs that earned him the nickname Scott "Free." It seemed the Patriots front office was showing a little favoritism by offering a former employee such a sweet deal. Or was it such a sweet deal?
In the words of Lee Corso, 'Suck it, Herbstreet!' Or, more fittingly, in the words of Corso, 'Not so fast, my friend!' If you remember correctly, Brady was injured in New England's first game last year, against the Chiefs! Could this whole charade been orchestrated by the Patriots? This can't be the first time the words "charade" and "orchestrated" have been mentioned in relation to the Patriots, is it? Of course not. We all remember "Spygate," right? Let's call this one "Kneegate."
Did Tom Brady really hurt his knee against the Chiefs on that September afternoon in Kansas City? Maybe. Maybe not. Since when can you trust a New England injury report? Brady's knee injury served two purposes - one, it allowed Cassel to step into a situation in which he could flourish (tossing passes to one of the league's best downfield receivers, Randy Moss, and maybe the best possession receiver in the league, Wes Welker, and Kevin Faulk, one of the best backfield receivers), and thus padding his stats to become tasty trade bait. And two, it allowed Brady to play errand boy to Giselle, catering to her every need, all while we assumed he was rehabilitating that knee. The knee was okay. It worked just fine when Brady went to one knee to pop the question.
So, in the end, did anyone lose in this trade? No. There's no quarterback controversy in New England; Brady will resume his starting position, if he can break free of the clutches of Giselle. Plus, the Pats have an early second-round pick, who will probably turn out to be a Rookie of the Year candidate. The Chiefs have a proven linebacker in Vrabel, and finally an answer to their quarterback question, assuming Cassel's 2008 season was no fluke. And Pioli, as well as Bill Belichick and the Patriots front office, both maintain their reputations as shrewd and uncompromising deal-makers.