Making sense of the Ocho restructure request

Making sense of the Ocho restructure request
February 29, 2012, 4:00 pm
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The Patriots have asked Chad Ochocinco to restructure his contract. OK. Why?Given the contributions made by Ocho in 2011, theverb beginning with "R" that is most appropriate in Ocho's case is "rip-up."The Patriots poured 4.5 million in salary into the once-productive wideout last year. What they got was a try-hard practice player that dropped a would-be touchdown in one of the team's three regular-season losses. They got 15 catches from him. Many of them were case studies in insecurity. On the majority of those 15 catches, Ocho wouldgo to the ground immediately afterthe ball arrived, clutching it to his body like a newborn and waiting to be touched down.Forget trying to make a play. That would meantaking a chance on ruining everything and inviting the wrath and disappointment of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.Better to just lie there on the turf andgive rise to the suspicion he was no longer very good than rise to his feet and prove it. On the few catches on which Ocho remained upright, he either scuttled out of bounds or -- in the case of his season-long reception against the Jets -- ran slowly down the middle of the field until he was tracked down like anaged and infirmed wildebeest culled from the herd. He played no special teams. Hewas not seen as a vertical threat. And, after Brady watched him drop passes throughout August and into September, the quarterback stopped looking at him. Tiquan Underwood and Matthew Slater were more valued than Ocho. So why bother asking him to trim the 3 millionsalary he's on the books for this season-- an amount that will be guaranteed if he's on the roster opening day. Look, the Patriots screwed up when they traded with the Bengals and gaveOcho a three-year deal worth 11 million and close to 5 million guaranteed. By the end of the season, the greatest compliment he earned was, "Well, at least he wasn't an a-hole . . ."He wasn't worth the money. Big deal. He wasn't an impediment to the team's success and the fact other pickups like Andre Carter and BrianWaters worked out so well lessens the sting.This could be the latest -- and last -- bit of face-saving done in L'affaire Ocho. The Patriots ask him to trim his deal, he politely refuses, the team releases him and the indignity of an outright release is avoided. Everybody loved the chance to work together and will remain friends forever. Worst-case scenario? Ocho agrees to the pay cut.