COMMENTARY | Despite a 2-0 record, the New England Patriots have started the 2013 season with major questions regarding their wide receivers. As the team tries to get the unit back on track, one thing that's clear is that veteran free agent Terrell Owens is not the answer.
The 39-year-old Owens recently expressed interest in joining New England. With him having looked for a job since the end of the 2010 season, and the Patriots' receivers struggling, one could envision it being an intriguing match. It's not.
New England quarterback Tom Brady has mustered an uncharacteristically low 473 passing yards and 74.1 passer rating through the first two games. This has been caused by several reasons.
The team has three rookie receivers in Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins. Not surprisingly, they have struggled in the early going with inconsistency, dropped passes, and poor communication with Brady.
Julian Edelman has combined for an impressive 20 catches in the first two games. However, his total of 157 receiving yards reflects his inability to get open far off the line because of how opposing defensive backs are zeroing in on him.
By comparison, Owens' experience dwarfs all the receivers on the Patriots put together. In a 15-year career spent with five teams, he has caught a total of 1,078 passes for 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns. He is second all-time in the NFL in receiving yards and third in touchdowns.
Unfortunately, his remarkable statistics have often been diminished by his over-sized personality.
He has personified the me-first player stereotype, often putting his own selfish motivations above the good of his teams.
Even with his enormous receiving numbers, Owens has been vocal in the past when he felt he wasn't getting the ball enough.
Owens hasn't played in the NFL since 2010 with the Cincinnati Bengals, and is nearing his 40th birthday. But he is such a physical specimen that there is good reason to believe he could still be productive on the field. However, all the off-field baggage he brings makes him entirely not worth the look.
With the Patriots' current group of receivers having so much youth, bringing in a player of Owens' reputation would be a dangerous chance to take because of the possible bad influence. Additionally, with the offseason arrest of tight end Aaron Hernandez on murder charges, the team can ill-afford bringing in a player with the potential to cause negative attention.
There has been no indication the Patriots have expressed an interest in bringing in Owens, but as he told The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn, he hopes their current situation forces their hand. "Tom Brady has a lot of young guys and I'm sure he could use some veteran help and I would love to play for a guy like Bill Belichick and play with a quarterback like Tom. They are going to try to win by [receiving] committee."
He went on to claim, "I'm not coming in there trying to disrupt anything. That's what the thinking is with some of these organizations. That's not my forte. If we're winning ballgames, I don't have a problem with it."
That statement says it all. Owens may not cause any trouble for his team if they are winning and everything is going well, but all bets could be off if things went south. As an annual contender with a number of young players, the Patriots have too much to risk by gambling on the veteran receiver.
New England has given troubled players chances in the past with mixed results. Receiver Randy Moss and running back Corey Dillon thrived during their time with the team. On the other hand, receiver Chad Ochocinco (Johnson) and defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth were total busts. In each of those situations, the team had a more overall veteran presence than they do this season.
There is no doubt Owens is one of the greatest players of all time. While the Patriots could desperately use some veteran help with their receivers, they have to be choosy if they were to bring someone in. The controversial veteran presents too much potential downside, without enough upside, to have his recent interest be taken seriously.
In addition to the Yahoo Contributor Network, Andrew Martin has written extensively for Bleacher Report and a number of print publications and websites on the topics of history and sports (particularly the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots). He also produces his own blog and has appeared on various sports talk shows and podcasts.
You can also follow Andrew on Twitter: @HistorianAndrew.
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