Is it collusion that's keeping Terrell Owens unemployed?

Free-agent wide receiver Terrell Owens expressed some confusion and frustration Tuesday over the fact that he's still unemployed. Owens feels like he was a choir boy last season in Buffalo — and a productive one at that — but that no one noticed. From the AP's Rachel Cohen:

“There were a number of times where prior I probably would have reacted, said something I wasn’t supposed to say,” Owens told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “I really had some restraint, very patient.”

Did any owners notice?

“It’s almost like I didn’t play last year,” he lamented.

Perhaps it is. But the important thing is that, at this time next year, Owens isn't saying, "It's almost like I didn't play last year again. In fact, it's exactly like that, because no one ever signed me to a contract."

So what's keeping that from happening? Could it be ... the c-word? CBS Sports' Mike Freeman threw it out there on Twitter.

I really am starting to believe there is collusion between teams with Terrell Owens(notes). It's payback for him acting like a turd.

Turd-like behavior or not, though, collusion among teams and/or owners would still be a major violation of the league's collective bargaining agreement. It would be awfully hard for anyone to prove, though, and even if they did, what's the league going to do about it? Fine someone? How would that help Owens?

I believe there are teams out there that could, and probably should, bring Owens aboard. Not many, but some. These are the questions teams have to ask themselves before they'd consider inviting the VH1 star into their delicate little ecosystem:

1. Is Owens going to produce like a first receiver, second receiver, third receiver or lower?

2. If his role is as a third receiver (which is where I think most teams would land on the first question), how much of an upgrade is he over your current third receiver?

3. Does that upgrade justify taking on the media attention that Owens attracts and/or the risk that he'll do something to destroy your locker room?

4. And finally, can you get him at a price that makes sense?

And as I said, I think there are teams out there who could give Owens-positive answers on all those questions, except maybe the last one. I don't know how much money Owens is looking for, but at this point, surely he realizes that he's not going to get Nate Burleson money. He's probably not even getting Arnaz Battle money.

The big question, though — and what Owens feels like is preventing him from getting a contract — is the third one. He thinks his past behavior is being held against him, despite the fact that he was a good boy in Buffalo.

And I think he's probably right. I also think that, eventually, someone will have some injuries and/or other problems, and find themselves needing Terrell Owens. In the meantime, though, he'll probably be jobless a little while longer, and if he's looking for answers, Freeman's is probably the best one he's going to get.

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