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Point-Counterpoint: Should Bears get T.O.?

7/23/2010
AP Photo/Don Heupel

Subject: Should the Bears acquire Terrell Owens?

Dickerson’s point: The Bears don’t need T.O.

Statistics say the Bears should sign Terrell Owens.

Common sense dictates otherwise.

Owens' on-field accomplishments over the course of his 14-year NFL career can’t be disputed, but neither can the receiver’s selfish, me-first attitude, which caused well-documented friction in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas and Buffalo. We should point out all great wide receivers possess that prima donna gene, but at 36 years old, is the juice really worth the squeeze at this point?

One of the great unknowns for the Bears is how this team responds to adversity. Let's face it, enormous egos occupy key positions on the offense, and how they manage to coexist could determine the fate of this current regime. Adding Owens to the mix of an already potentially volatile cocktail would be foolish. What happens if just a few passes are thrown his way the first week? How long until he's performing shirtless sit-ups on the driveway leading up to Halas Hall? The last thing the Bears need are more distractions in the locker room. We've seen certain personal agendas sabotage the collective group at times in the post-Super Bowl era, which ironically, hasn't included a single postseason berth. For Lovie Smith to survive another campaign, everybody needs to be pulling on the same end of the rope.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but the Bears should've added a veteran wide receiver for the purposes of helping younger and inexperienced wideouts digest the complex Mike Martz offense. Despite what the Bears have tried to sell this offseason, the receivers are still a major question mark heading into camp.

But they'd still be better off if Owens took his tired act someplace else.

Wright’s counterpoint: Put yourself in the positions of Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo. Your job’s on the line, depending on how this season pans out. The onus seems to be win games at all costs.

Given the complexities of Mike Martz’s offense scheme, coupled with the personnel on hand, Smith and Angelo would be selling the team short -- especially if Owens can be acquired at a bargain-basement price -- by not seriously considering the receiver as an addition. Truth be told, T.O. isn’t T.O. anymore. He’s lost it somewhat.

But let’s take a closer look.

His 55-catch output in 2009 ranks as the lowest of Owens’ career, since 2005, when he caught 47 passes in a season shortened by nine games because he was suspended by the Eagles. In Chicago, however, 55 catches would more than do the job.

With Devin Hester and Johnny Knox entrenched as the No. 1 and No. 2 receivers for the Bears, Owens would come in as the No. 3 receiver, and line up primarily in the slot. For all the publicity Chicago’s young receiving corps has garnered this offseason, the reality is the group isn’t exactly proven. Owens is.

Because of the blazing speed possessed by Hester and Knox -- who aren’t exactly polished route runners -- opponents would have to account for them in coverage, which would open things up in the middle for Owens and tight end Greg Olsen to do damage. During the height of Martz’s “Greatest Show on Turf” days in St. Louis, slot receiver Az-Zahir Hakim caught 36, 53, and 39 passes from 1999 to 2001. Possessing as good if not better run-after-catch skills as Hakim -- even at age 36 -- Owens would surpass that production and put the Bears offense over the top, while giving Cutler a big, dangerous target (security) underneath, in addition to a mentor (most of Owen’s former teammates swear by him) to the team’s young receivers.

If my job’s on the line like Smith’s and Angelo’s, I’m all over Owens. Dealing with any headaches he might bring to the table seems a small price, when pondering the potential for a pink slip at season’s end if things don’t go as planned.