If you were trying to build a case for why the Patriots will release Chad Ochocinco, you’d appear to have all the evidence you need already. Before free agency began the team indicated it thinks he’s overpaid with a request that he restructure his contract. Once free agency started the Patriots did everything in their power to get as many other wide receivers as they could by adding Brandon Lloyd, Anthony Gonzalez and Donte Stallworth, re-signing Deion Branch and franchising Wes Welker. And, of course, there’s the little matter of Ochocinco being a 34-year-old coming off a season in which he had a career-low 15 catches for 276 yards.
And yet the Patriots haven’t released Ochocinco yet, and some reports suggest that he’ll remain in New England for the 2012 season.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Ochocinco will be back, saying that the Patriots think he’ll study the playbook this offseason and come to training camp much more ready to play in the Patriots’ offense than he was last year, when he was acquired at the start of training camp and never really got up to speed.
However, as Schefter also notes, the Patriots are always going to let the players compete in training camp and keep the best players. And if Ochocinco isn’t a lot better in training camp than he was last season, it’s hard to envision him being one of the best receivers on the roster.
So we don’t yet know whether Ochocinco has a spot on the Patriots’ roster for the 2012 season. But it’s at least looking like he has a spot on the Patriots’ roster for training camp. And considering how little he accomplished in a Patriots uniform in 2011, even getting a chance to make the team in 2012 is a positive step for Ochocinco.