Nothing is official, but the rumor mill is spinning regarding a Cincinnati Bengals’ future without Chad Johnson.
The oft-headlined receiver has spent his entire career with the orange-clad team, and speculation is running rampant that the Bengals could look to part with the charismatic receiver.
After an injury-shortened season in 2008—and a media frenzy surrounding his surname change—it is assumed that Johnson (or Ocho Cinco) could be had by a team seeking the services of a proven, primary receiver.
This is exactly where the Jets factor into the equation. If Johnson is made available by the Bengals, they definitely won’t be the only team vying for his services.
But it’s an opportunity they simple cannot ignore. With Randy Moss reigning as the top WR in the division and Terrell Owens now claiming residence in Buffalo, the Jets could use a five-time Pro Bowler to make the passing game more threatening—no matter who the quarterback is.
When Laveranues Coles was released (and subsequently signing by the Bengals), sixth-year receiver Jerricho Cotchery received his long overdue promotion to become the Jets No. 1 target.
But the significant lack of depth behind Cotchery makes the situation an unfavorable one for whomever is eventually named as the starting quarterback.
Despite the upcoming NFL Draft, acquiring Johnson would be the safest and smartest move for the organization.
With the 17th pick, the Jets are expected to be heavily involved in the wide receiver market. But they may be too far away to choose either of the highest-rated prospects in Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin.
There’s no telling how significant the drop-off in talent is going to be after Crabtree and Maclin come off the board, but the common belief amongst analysts is that collegiate receivers take at least three seasons to fully acclimate to the pace of the NFL.
Not everyone is Calvin Johnson.
The Jets already have some intriguing youth who can develop into quality receivers, but pairing up too much inexperience without adequate veteran support is a recipe for disaster.
David Clowney has been a darling of fans since his explosive performances in the 2008 preseason, and Chansi Stuckey has shown great hands and clutch ability in high-pressure situations.
But how many times can the Jets afford to roll the dice on offense?
The front office did the right thing when they declined to piece together a devastating compensation package for Jay Cutler.
Going into 2009 with faith in the men on the roster is the right decision, but it’s going to be necessary to find appropriate talent who can bring them along smoothly.
At 31 years old, it may be unreasonable to expect Chad Johnson to remain a 1,300-yard receiver. But with New York, he’ll find himself in a familiar offensive situation.
There’s no Carson Palmer, but Cotchery’s ability as a possession receiver can rival the performances of Johnson’s former teammate, T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
In fact, an argument can be made in favor of Cotchery as a better possession receiver than Houshmandzadeh. Cotchery has averaged 12.5 yards per reception over his career, whereas Houshmandzadeh lingers around the 11.4-yard mark.
Johnson would be more than a stop-gap receiver, and—if healthy—will prove to be a substantial upgrade over Coles.
Coles was the Jets last 1,200-yard receiver, in 2002. In a 16-game season, Chad Johnson has only had less than 1,200 yards once.
The logic behind bringing Chad to New York almost makes too much sense.
His abilities will help the Jets keep stride with the competition while the team’s youth adjusts to the complexities of the professional game.