- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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Get your barf bags ready.
The Cincinnati Bengals still are considered the favorite to land the free-agent wide receiver, but GM Mike "Due Diligence" Tannenbaum thought enough of Owens to pick up the phone.
Quite simply, it would be a disaster to bring Owens to the Jets -- unless you run HBO's "Hard Knocks." The TV show's honchos, imagining the dramatic possibilities, probably experienced heart palpitations over breakfast as they read the story. T.O. and Rex Ryan in the same show? Holy Nielsen ratings, Batman!
Owens might help HBO win an Emmy, but he wouldn't help the Jets win a Lombardi Trophy. It would be a bad move on many levels. Let us count the ways:
• Chemistry is going to be an issue even without the volatile, egomaniacal T.O. Bring him on board and it would be like adding sour milk to cake batter. Imagine a receiving corps with Owens, Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes. "The Three Amigos"? Not quite. It would be the Three Egos.
• It would put unnecessary pressure on Mark Sanchez, who, for all his late-season success, still is a young quarterback who doesn't need a player like Owens yapping in his ear after every play.
• It would create a circus atmosphere, not only in training camp, but throughout the season. By adding Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor and Antonio Cromartie, the Jets have become a hot national story and will attract droves of media types. Owens would take it to the level of distraction. Yes, Ryan has displayed an ability to handle this sort of thing, but enough is enough.
• It would send a bad message to the three members of the so-called "Core Four" who are unhappy with their contracts -- Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold and David Harris. Sources say the Jets aren't offering Revis a dime of fully guaranteed money; how would it look if they turn around and give Owens a couple of million dollars in guarantees? It would be a bad PR move that could alienate some of the best players on the team.
• Last but not least, Owens is on his last legs. He's 36 years old, and slipping. In 2008, he caught 69 passes for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 2009, it was down to 55, 829 and five. True, he played for the Buffalo Bills, an atrocious offensive team, but it was clear that Owens had lost some of his burst. After holding Owens to three catches for 13 yards in a 16-13 Jets win, Revis said he noticed that T.O. seemed to give up as the game progressed. Basically, Revis broke his will.
Owens still can be a serviceable receiver, but what teams have to ask themselves is this: Is he worth the trouble? In the Jets' case, the answer is an emphatic no.
League sources say Tannenbaum's phone call to the agent was exploratory in nature, similar to the JaMarcus Russell call in late June. Tannenbaum's a GM; it's what he does.
Locker room reaction? It's hard to say, but one Jets veteran told ESPNNewYork.com on Tuesday morning: "Do I think we need him? No, but I'm in the business of winning. ... I don't mind at all. I think we have a strong locker room."
That's what the Dallas Cowboys said. And the Philadelphia Eagles. Both had locker rooms Owens wound up poisoning.