Should the Packers Sign Terrell Owens?
It must be something in the offseason air: aging stars are openly pondering playing for the Packers. First it was Adrian Peterson, now former 49ers/Eagles/Cowboys/Bills/Bengals receiver Terrell Owens wants to punch his ticket to Green Bay.
Owens, who’s headed to the Hall of Fame this summer (although he won’t be in attendance for his own induction), turns 45 in December and hasn’t played in the NFL since 2010, catching passes with Chad Johnson-Ochocino.
With Randall Cobb limping towards training camp and no clear veteran replacement to take his snaps, Owens is at least theoretically an option. So how far does that theory stretch?
Should the Packers sign Terrell Owens?
Let’s be clear: there’s no reason the Packers should sign Terrell Owens. It strains credulity to even bring it up. But since it’s the offseason, let’s bring it up. Sure, it’s dumb, but dumb things are fun sometimes.
What if the Packers did sign Terrell Owens?
If the Packers signed him, the first and most logical reaction should be complete surprise. This signing, if it happened, would be the most ridiculous free agent stunt in NFL history, bar none. There isn’t really a comparison for this kind of move that actually makes sense, at least not in the NFL. No player of Owens’ caliber has been out of the game as long has he has and made any sort of realistic comeback attempt.
Clearing that hurdle, Owens would likely play a pretty limited role in Green Bay. Owens was always a physical outside receiver who overpowered opponents with his pure athletic superiority, which is fine, but it’s also at odds with what the Packers really need from a boundary receiver. The Packers could really use a guy who gets open through great routes and being where he’s supposed to be, not someone who thrives on contested balls, which Aaron Rodgers is loath to throw.
Owens is not all that dissimilar from Dez Bryant, to whom the Packers have been connected this offseason. Most of the drawbacks of a Bryant signing would also be true of Owens, both on the field and off. Like Owens, Bryant is a physical outside receiver who relies on overpowering defensive backs to make plays. And like Bryant, Owens is known for his flamboyant, occasionally abrasive personality. It should be noted (even emphasized) that unlike Bryant, Owens has never faced any legal consequences for his off-field actions, most of which could be characterized as mostly jerk-like behavior as opposed to criminal activity.
Is there any chance this could actually work?
Probably not. Even if the Packers took the unprecedented step of signing a player who’s been out of the game for nearly a decade, there’s the simple fact that Owens is just plain old. If he lined up for any NFL team this year, Owens would easily become the oldest player in NFL history to catch a pass.
Since 1950, exactly two players have ever caught a pass at age 40 or older: Jerry Rice and (not even kidding) Brett Favre. And Rice, for all his greatness (and fumbling), didn’t do anything past age 42. Owens would almost be three years beyond that.
That’s not to say Owens isn’t still an incredible athlete. He posted a low 4.4’s 40-yard dash just a couple weeks ago.
If there’s anyone who could compete in the NFL in their mid-40s, it might be Owens.
But on balance, there’s just too much working against an Owens signing. Even if it’s fun to talk about, this idea is best thrown on the offseason scrap pile.