Is Terrell Owens headed for AFC East?

March, 5, 2009
3/05/09
9:54
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The AFC East mailbag is already filling up with questions about Terrell Owens. Fans want to know if their teams will pursue the lightning rod receiver, and if so, will they be able to land him.

To analyze the possibilities within the AFC East, I have concocted the T.O. Index, a scientific formula endorsed by Mr. Peabody but -- in a rare rift -- dismissed by his boy, Sherman.

The T.O. Index is a scale from one to 100, factoring in three key criteria: whether the team needs a receiver (particularly a No. 1 target), whether a team would be willing to stomach Owens' act and whether the team could spend the money required to sign him.

Miami Dolphins T.O. Index 82

Receiver need: High. The Dolphins don't have a true No. 1 receiver. Instead they have a collection of 2's and 3's. The problem, though, is that quarterback Chad Pennington's limited arm would prevent the Dolphins from maximizing Owens' gifts and, therefore, the sizable investment required to land him. If Chad Henne were the quarterback, the outlook would be different.

Tolerance level: Medium. At least Dolphins management would know what they were getting themselves into. Football operations boss Bill Parcells coached Owens in Dallas. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano was an offensive assistant there under Parcells. Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland came from the Cowboys scouting department.

Pockets: Deep. New Dolphins owner Stephen Ross on Monday said Parcells has "a free hand" in personnel decisions and will not be inhibited financially. The Dolphins have room under the salary cap for plenty of moves.

New York Jets T.O. Index 63

Receiver need: Medium. The Jets parted ways with Laveranues Coles, but even before their divorce they needed a receiver with separation skills to stretch the field. The Jets don't know yet who their quarterback will be, but any of the candidates would love to hang the ball up for Owens to chase.

Tolerance level: High. Rookie head coach Rex Ryan is a charismatic leader with a reputation for being able to manage all sorts of personalities and egos from his years running the Baltimore Ravens' defense. Remember, the Ravens worked out a trade for Owens with the San Francisco 49ers, but the NFL overturned the deal. Ryan, as a defensive coach, probably wasn't asked to sign off on Owens then, but the team's willingness to take him on indicates how open-minded the Ravens were.

Pockets: Shrinking. The Jets have been so active over the past few days they might not have much flexibility. They signed linebacker Bart Scott and safety Jim Leonhard. They traded for cornerback Lito Sheppard and gave him an extension.

Buffalo Bills T.O. Index 38

Receiver need: Medium. The Bills have hosted Coles and Kelly Washington on free-agent visits. But they're looking for a No. 2 complement for leading man Lee Evans, who they're already paying an average of more than $9 million a year. Of course, Owens as the No. 1 and Evans as the No. 2 would be a pretty nasty duo. Nah, never happen.

Tolerance level: Medium. The Bills haven't had any many divas or headline-grabbing players over the past decade, although running back Marshawn Lynch has been a recurring headache lately. We're not sure how strong Lynch's organizational support is these days.

Pockets: Taffy. The Bills have plenty of room under the salary cap to make a big-ticket purchase, but if they went after Owens, it would be shocking. They simply don't pursue these types of players and rarely throw their money around. One exception was two years ago, when the Bills made guard Derrick Dockery the highest-paid player in team history. The Bills cut Dockery last week.

New England Patriots T.O. Index 22

Receiver need: Low. They already have Randy Moss and Wes Welker. We saw what happened in Dallas when Owens didn't think he was getting enough attention from Tony Romo. The Patriots might need another receiver after losing Jabar Gaffney to free agency, but I think Moss and Owens on the same team with Tom Brady is against the Geneva Convention.

Tolerance level: Low. The Patriots preach concepts like team and system and accountability and, for the love of man, self-restraint.

Pockets: Deep, but mostly spoken for. The Patriots were so jammed against the cap they had to restructure Moss' contract to sign running back Fred Taylor and tight end Chris Baker. They have some breathing room that they've traded Matt Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel, but they won't be spending a chunk on a luxury item after sacrificing to free up the money.

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