Here's the situation. The situation is this. (where is that from? I can't remember)
TO v Marshall v Bryant
Let's look at each. I have my own, whiskey-soaked, unprofessional thoughts on each so I'll try to add some more respectable takes from others where I can. Sadly though, it appears sources like ESPN Insider's Scouts Inc haven't been updated and would be backward looking evaluations, not forward looking, and hence not that useful. Here goes:
Pros: Talented. In crazy good shape (steroids?). Unrestricted free agent. 1 year contract potentially limits damage to team long term.
Cons: Old balls. Crazy. Potential locker room hazard.
ProFootballFocus 2009 Ranking: 97th out of 107 total receivers. 69th in 2008. Yikes - though ESPN Insider had him ranked 7th best going into the season.
Cost: had 1 year $6.5 million for Buffalo last year. I'd pay less this year, even $5 mil makes me queasy (Adam Schefter's description of the market for Owens, "It's there but it's not exactly vibrant").
My take: Only works as a 1 year signing (assuming 2011 is gone). Even then, he is just a huge unknown. Will Chad and him completely meltdown in an arms race to grab the most attention or would they mesh into some insane yet benign duo that complement each other well? Was Owens shitty year last year just due to being stuck on a horrid Buffalo team or a sign of his age? My guess is age.
Pros: I'm told he's good. I don't know, I've never seen him play. ESPN Insider says he has legit #1 WR skills so let's go with that. Allegedly he is maturing.
Cons: 4 teams in 6 seasons. Current team not even making effort to sign him. Inconsistent. In prime, but not for much longer.
ProFootballFocus 2009 Ranking: 83rd out of 107 total receivers. 12th in 2008 though.
Cost: Made about $10 million last year due to franchise tag. Apparently a raise of $9 million from his previous $1 million cost. Who knows, a Coles like contract? $7 million/year for 4 years? He will ask for more I bet.
My take: The more I read the more I like actually. Bryant's alleged contract bitching was due to being franchised tagged by the Bucs instead of getting a longer term deal after his breakout 2008 season. His reasons? They cut Jeff Garcia in order to give a carousel of unproven young QBs a try that season, which would make him look worse than he is, which would hurt his future market value. And you know what? He's right. In 2009, his numbers plummeted, due to a crappy team and but also due to injury. Roto-world notes:
Bryant, 29, is coming off an injury-plagued season, but he separated with ease when healthy late in the year and would be an ideal match for the forgiving Bengals organization.
Pros: Raging bad ass. Good after catch. Has both deep threat and possession skills. Young.
Cons: Crazy. Locker room hazard potential. Immature. Blocking. Dedication to team and winning in doubt. Expensive. A ton of downside for a guy commanding his price.
Cost: 1st round pick & HUGE contract. Likely $10 million a year for 5 years or something.
ProFootballFocus 2009 Ranking: 32nd out of 107 total receivers. 16th in 2008. His blocking grade holds him back substantially. A little disconcerting.
My take: Provides everything you'd want in a talent starting opposite Chad and also can replace him as Chad inevitably ages and his production slides. Basically, allows us to not only make our receiving core disgusting in the short term, but also lock it in longer term as well. Great right? That's if he is actually on the field, you know, trying hard. Because he has decided trying isn't his thing. It shows up in his ProFootballFocus ranking and also when his own coach benched him for a season ending game with playoff implications. I don't like counting on him to be the future core of our receivers when who knows if he'll be on the field even when healthy.
What to do:
From a comedy standpoint, I'd sign TO if he would come for $4 mil or less. A sick part of me actually wants to see it.
But seriously, we cannot saddle Carson with another insane WR, especially one with old balls. The continued wasting of Carson's career is the biggest crime perpetrated by the Bengals against Cincinnati besides the stadium deal. So if I am GM, I say TO's downside outweighs his upside and look elsewhere.
Bryant looks like a compelling balance of good fit for our needs at WR and price tag. I think if you give him a fair contract, a team with a stable QB, and a team that can win he will be a very solid producer. I don't think he's the type of guy where if we signed him people will go "Holy shit, this is amazing" though. He won't put the fear of God into opposing teams either. And he isn't a long term solution for an aging Chad. He does not get my first offer as GM.
Marshall? He will make people go "Holy shit, this is amazing." Him and Chad will terrify opposing teams in a way Chad and anyone else won't. Maybe dealing with Cutlerfucker and then drunken wookie Kyle Orton while being coached by an asshole made a young, moody Marshall worse than he actually is. I will never be able to meet him and potentially find out. So even though at first glance such a high price seems absurd given Marshall's potential team sinking attitude, I am thinking the risk is worth it.
First, contracts are not guaranteed, so signing a big contract does not kill a NFL team the way it might kill an NBA or MLB team.
Second, it's about taking a huge risk to succeed during a time when a)Carson Palmer is in his prime b)Zimmer can control the defense, and c)Marvin can still keep Mikey at bay.
Third, it's also about potentially securing a #1 WR for another half decade and the rest of Palmer's career.
The Bengals are only in this position because they fucked up with TJ and the franchise tag as well as their WR draft picks, so they owe it to the fans to make a bold move to correct their mistake. If I am GM, I am going in and making a strong offer to Marshall.
Update: I would be more than happy with Bryant and keeping our first round pick too