Chad Ochocinco at a store opening in Miami on June 1. (Getty Images)Well, that didn't take long. Unlike his old buddy Terrell Owens, former Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots receiver Chad Ochocinco found a new team very quickly after his recent release from his old one.
Chad will jump AFC East franchises from the Pats, who released him last week, to the Miami Dolphins, who agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the productive and mercurial receiver on Monday. The move was made after Ochocinco worked out with the team.
The news was officially released on Chad's own website, OCNN (The Ochocinco News Network), with the following statement:
We just got confirmation from Chad Ochocinco that he has just signed with the Miami Dolphins. The 6-time Pro Bowler will now get a chance to finish his career in his home state. More details as they arrive.
Ochocinco, one of the more adept tweeters in any field (in April of 2011, CNBC named him the most influential athlete in social media), has already adjusted his Twitter profile with "Miami Dolphins WR" in his profile and a new cartoon version of himself, wearing the Dolphins' uniform.
The Dolphins later confirmed the signing. Ochocinco didn't do much in one season with the New England Patriots after the Bengals traded him up north -- he caught just 15 passes for 276 yards and one touchdown. It is believed that he struggled with the team's complicated system of option routes, and he wouldn't be the first player to do so. With the Dolphins, things are likely to be different -- there's a three-way quarterback battle with a relatively inexperienced rookie at the head (first-round pick Ryan Tannehill, who played quarterback for less than two years in college), so it's doubtful that every route will have four or five possible permutations right away.
In addition, Chad brings his expertise to perhaps the most receiver-starved team in the NFL. With former No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall off to the Chicago Bears in an offseason trade, the Dolphins' leading receiver from last year's roster is possession man Davone Bess, who caught 51 balls for 537 yards and three touchdowns. Before his relative drought in New England, Chad had caught at least 53 passes in each of the last nine seasons. In seven of those seasons, he gained at least 1,000 receiving yards, though he last did that in 2009. But even if Chad can't bring himself in his prime to Miami, what he has left in the tank should help an offense desperate for assistance.
New Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said that the acquisition was "not an indictment of any of the players that we have," but there's no doubt that the current receiver corps has underwhelmed in the 2012 preseason, just as it had before. "I think we have to catch the ball more consistently at every position on offense, because it's not quite where it needs to be," the coach concluded.
"I definitely feel like he can be a help, just from a veteran standpoint, with his wisdom and his knowledge," running back Reggie Bush said of Ocho after Monday's practice. "I personally think he still has a lot left, and knowing him, he would still want to prove that he can do it at his age and that he can still play the game."
The 34-year-old Ochocinco, a Miami native, had recently been working out with T.O. in the Sunshine State. The move is certainly a media bounty for a team in need of a national awareness upgrade. The Dolphins agreed to appear in this year's "Hard Knocks" show after a half-dozen other teams turned NFL Films down. Chad appeared in the 2009 version of the popular program when the Cincinnati Bengals were profiled. He also hosted his own show ("The T.Ocho Show") on the Versus Network, played himself in the latest iteration of the "American Pie" movie franchise, and did a star turn on the VH1 dating show, "The Ultimate Catch." So, he'll be able to show the more camera-averse players how to ham it up.
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