Shutdown Corner - NFL

Terrell Owens(notes) could soon be a major factor in the level of success and happiness that Sam Bradford(notes) experiences in his rookie year. ESPN's Chris Mortensen says that the Rams are putting together a serious contract offer for Owens, and that T.O. could be in a Rams jersey within 72 hours.

The Bengals are apparently still in the mix for Owens, too, though Mort says they're not pursuing him quite as actively as the Rams. Adam Schefter says that Carson Palmer wants it to happen, and it also could be that the Bengals are concerned about the status of Antonio Bryant's knee.

And yes, that does sound like something the Bengals maybe should have checked out before giving Bryant a four-year, $28 million contract, but let's focus on the Rams here. Their interest comes out of left field, and to me, despite the potential media magic of an Ochocinco/Owens pairing, is way more compelling.

Here's why: The Rams almost have to believe that Owens will be a responsible and positive influence in the locker room, which is not exactly what Owens is known for.

See, the Bengals' interest makes more sense: They figure to be a good team, and for them, it's possible that a quality second receiver could make the difference between playoffs and no playoffs. If he happened to come in and submarine team chemistry, it was still worth a shot, because they needed that player.

The Rams, though, don't need that player. They will be winning absolutely nothing in 2010, and I think they know that. It's not like Owens is the missing piece of the puzzle in St. Louis. The missing piece of the puzzle in St. Louis is about 80 percent of the puzzle.

So they have to be looking at this as something that would be a positive influence on their young players: Bradford at quarterback, and their youngsters at receiver, Donnie Avery(notes), Keenan Burton(notes) and Mardy Gilyard(notes). They must believe Owens will be a stabilizing veteran influence, and that he will in no way disrupt their young players. They must believe he has something to give to their future, because right now, the Rams are all about the future.

It's not that interesting to me that a team believes Owens can help them win. That's always been the case. I find it really interesting, though, that the Rams believe Owens can help them build.

We all know what went down between Owens and Jeff Garcia(notes), and Owens and Donovan McNabb(notes). I'm not suggesting that we ignore them or forget them. Let the man's past be his past, because 2009 happened, too. And in 2009, Owens played on a hapless team, catching poorly-thrown balls from two of the worst quarterbacks to step foot on NFL grass last year, and he did it all with a humble smile on his face.

Through it all, he was a good soldier. He put in the work, he never complained, and his teammates didn't have anything negative to say about him.

I guess the Rams noticed, and watching Owens try to contribute as a leader and mentor, to me, would be way more interesting than watching him try to just be a great receiver.

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