RENTON — Since taking over as the head coach of the Seahawks, Pete Carroll has never been one to shy away from a reclamation project.
And on Monday, Carroll and Seahawks general manager John Schneider decided to take perhaps their biggest and highest-profile risk yet, agreeing to terms on a one-year contract with 38-year-old receiver Terrell Owens, a player who is known as one of the NFL’s most productive receivers and biggest headaches.
The Seahawks aren’t taking a big financial risk signing Owens, who according to an ESPN report will make the veteran minimum of $925,000 — if he makes the team, that is — but Seattle is taking a risk when it comes to locker-room chemistry by adding Owens, a player who has bounced around to five NFL teams despite being one of the best receivers to ever play the game.
Owens, who worked out for the Seahawks on Monday, was out of the NFL in 2011 after spending the previous season in Cincinnati. He led the Bengals in receiving in 2010, but was not re-signed by Cincinnati, or any other team for that matter, after tearing his ACL in the offseason. Lacking an NFL suitor, Owens played briefly for the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League last season, but maintained that he hoped to continue his NFL career.
Owens will now get that chance in Seattle, the place where many fans remember him as the player who celebrated a touchdown here by pulling a Sharpie out of his sock to sign the football.
And by taking a chance on Owens, the Seahawks are hoping that the player known league wide for both his incredible talent and his need for attention can still perform physically a few months shy of his 39th birthday without making headlines for his off-field behavior.
In addition to having his own reality TV show at one point, he also once worked out in his driveway for cameras and reporters after being kicked out of Eagles training camp. And earlier this year Owens appeared on the Dr. Phil show.
At least one of his new teammates, however, believes Owens will be a positive influence.
“The signing of T.O. brings a future HOF work ethic into a young locker room,” receiver Doug Baldwin wrote on Twitter. “Positive contribution. Honored to be his teammate.”
The fact that the Seahawks are at least considering making Owens a part of their 2012 season — and make no mistake, this signing will not come with any guarantees of playing time, let alone a roster spot — shows that the team has legitimate concerns at receiver.
Prior to the start of training camp, the Seahawks released Mike Williams, a starter in each of the last two seasons, and later signed a pair of past-their-prime veterans, Antonio Bryant and Braylon Edwards. Bryant has since been released, but now the Seahawks add Owens to the mix at a position with more questions that answers. If healthy, Sidney Rice is an elite talent, but he is coming back from surgery on both shoulders, and is still limited in practice. Baldwin led the team in receiving last year as an undrafted rookie, and gives Seattle a reliable option in the slot, but while Golden Tate has been impressive in training camp, he still needs to prove he can produce over the course of a full season, and beyond that, Seattle’s receivers are unproven.
Two years ago, when the Seahawks were in the early stages of a rebuilding process, Carroll took a pass on Owens, who was available before signing with the Bengals. Asked on an interview on 710 ESPN Seattle if Seattle was interested in Owens, Carroll dismissed the idea.
“I really like Terrell, but we won’t be able to do that this time around,” Carroll said. “I think at our time of our program development — I like him and all of that — but we’re going to continue to work with the guys that we’ve got and go in a different direction than that. … That’s not the right guy for us at this time.”
Yet two years later, the Seahawks believe Owens is, or at least has a chance to be, the right guy at this time. And if Owens is still physically able to play, and if he can avoid being a distraction, he does possess an on-field resume that is hard to ignore. A six-time Pro Bowler, Owens has nine seasons with 1,000 or more receiving yards, and ranks second all time to Jerry Rice in career receiving yards.
Whatever happens with Owens this week and beyond, it is safe to say that Seahawks’ three-man quarterback battle is no longer the only controversial story at training camp.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.