Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

28 Feb 2010

Bills Won't Offer Contracts To Owens, Reed, Denney

The Bills have announced they will not be offering contracts to wide receivers Terrell Owens and Josh Reed and defensive end Ryan Denney. Reed and Denney are pretty clearly backups at this point, but what about Owens? He is 36, and his -18 DYAR in 2009 was the first time in his career he was below replacement level. When you consider the "talent" around him, though -- most notably quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Trent Edwards -- it gets easier to see him bouncing back to some degree next year. Maybe Baltimore or Cincinnati will come calling.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 28 Feb 2010

24 comments, Last at 27 Mar 2010, 4:50am by sports-veronica


by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sun, 02/28/2010 - 3:16pm

If only he'd had a quarterback it would all have been so different ...

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Sun, 02/28/2010 - 4:04pm

You really think a 36-year-old WR who was below replacement level last year is going to bounce back? You really think he has another productive year in him when virtually every member of his storied WR draft class is retired?

by Alex51 :: Sun, 02/28/2010 - 6:45pm

And even if we assume that he does have another decent year left, and that his poor performance last year was just due to bad QBs, how much good is one more decent year going to do for a team like the Bills? I mean, I could see a team that's in win-now mode with a weak WR corps taking a gamble on him for a year, but it'd be kind of pointless for the Bills to offer him another contract.

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 3:55pm

That's what I was thinking. FWIW, it looks to me like he can still play starting WR in the NFL, but what value is he to Buffalo? I said that last year too. Even if he pans out perfectly, what difference does it make? Buffalo was/is a lot more than one WR1 away from being a contender. By the time they're a contender again, Owens will be retired.

He makes much more sense for a team like Baltimore or the Jets, but I don't know if I'd want to subject a young QB to The TO Show*.

* Note -- this refers to the actual TO Show, as well as TO himself.

by Theo :: Sun, 02/28/2010 - 8:43pm

Great fit for the Jets.
One more year.

by alexbond :: Sun, 02/28/2010 - 11:36pm

I think he could be decent in Cincy.

by Brendan Scolari :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 12:03am

Doesn't it seem a bit... i don't know, disingenuous to say TO's DVOA was below replacement level? Replacement level makes sense in baseball because a player's stats are mostly independent of his teammates, but in football they obviously aren't. Yes, he's declined a lot, but I still think (especially considering that Lee Evan's numbers are nearly the same as TO's) that his DVOA says more that Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Brian Brohm were really bad.

Looking at the numbers you can see that teams with bad QB play (BUF, KC, OAK, CLE, SEA, SF, CAR, CHI, etc.) all had ALL of their receivers with negative DVOA's. Doesn't it seem a lot less likely that every one of those teams had no decent receivers and a lot more likely that DVOA has a rather large impact on wide receiver DVOA's?

I mean, using the literal definition of a replacement level player, "a player that can be freely and easily replaced by available talent", I think you'd have to be almost crazy to apply it here. Does anyone honestly think you can find guys on the practice squad who are better than TO and Lee Evans were this year? No, I don't know that you can call any starting wide receiver replacement level (except for Darius Hayward Bay I suppose).

by DeltaWhiskey :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 3:43am

Good point.

by Brendan Scolari :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 5:02am

"Doesn't it seem a lot less likely that every one of those teams had no decent receivers and a lot more likely that DVOA has a rather large impact on wide receiver DVOA's?"

And of course, the above line should say, "... a lot more likely that QB DVOA has a rather large impact on wide receiver DVOA's?"

by Brendan Scolari :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 5:03am

Double post.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 12:09pm

Everything you're saying is true, but remember that negative DVOA is not necessarily below replacement level, just below average. Of course QB play has a large impact on WR performance, but Lee Evans still performed better than TO in both DVOA and DYAR. Josh Reed did as well, but he barely missed the cutoff number of attempts to be ranked. So TO wasn't just bad, he was outperformed by two much younger and (career-wise) less talented players on his own team. And the Bills are cutting Reed.

by Pete (not verified) :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 12:15pm

Owens has probably certainly lost something, but having watched Owens this year I believe that Brendan is correct. He can still be a contributing player on a good team.

But it is quite annoying to have him on 'your' team. The effort level isn't always there, the drops are maddening, and the networks insist on keeping the camera on him while he's on the sideline and make everything he says 'newsworthy'.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 12:30pm

Yeah. TO's definitely worth a place in the NFL in terms of his football skills, but given that he is apt to be a pain in the ass and may well be looking for unreasonable money, I'm not sure any team would be wise to want him. He's probably a pretty decent but unremarkable possession-type WR2 at this point. He's certainly not as good a free agent option as, for example, Kevin Walter.

by Brendan Scolari :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 4:06pm

That's about where I would place him as well.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 1:22pm


That's my argument against the outsiders stats. It makes sense, but it adds a "subjectiveness" to the whole process that they are trying to quantify and is like pulling a carpet from underneath their theories.

FYI: I agree with you.

by Temo :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 1:04pm

Cincy seems like a good fit for Owens. Don't put him on the Jets please.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 1:25pm

I think Baltimore is a logical choice to rent TO for 1-2 years. He was quiet for a year, some team will take a chance on him where as last year the buyers market was very slim.

I could see him going to a decent team that wants to rent him to try and win now
Go to a smaller market team that doesn't have a great outlook that wants a PR stunt and to add some excitement. A team LIKE Jacksonville to do what Buffalo did.

by Dean :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 1:35pm

Why Cincy? They already have a posession receiver.

Or is this just a "he's a jackass, so he obviously must belong on the Bengals" comment?

by Temo :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 4:23pm

He's not really a possession receiver; more of a long-ball threat. He hasn't wanted to be a possession receiver (or been good at it) for a few years now.

As for why Cincy: they need another WR, and there is the thought that negatives will cancel, as far as chemistry goes.

(However, will Cincy want to shell out the dough that his ego will demand? Probably not.)

by Dean :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 5:05pm

Owens may think of himself as a longball threat, but he hasn't been one in years.

Posession receiver may not be the right term, but as far as a guy who can work the short/intermediate routes, Owens can do that - when he remembers to catch the ball. He's still big, and still plays physical.

That "work the intermediate" role is occupied by 85 in Cincy. While they need "a" receiver, they need a guy who brings a different skillset to the table then what Owens offers. They need a pure burner.

And that's before you get to the money.

by Temo :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 6:36pm

a guy who can work the short/intermediate routes

I don't know which Terrel Owens we're talking about here, but if it's the one I saw with Dallas, that's precisely the opposite of what you're going to get.

He hated doing the short/intermediate routes, and had the hardest time trying to catch those balls especially.

Looking at FO game charting numbers for depth of route:

TO- 69% short/mid, 31% Deep/Bomb
Ocho- 77% short/mid, 21% Deep/Bomb

TO- 68% short/mid, 32% Deep/Bomb
Ocho- 63% short/mid, 37% Deep/Bomb

TO- 62% short/mid, 38% Deep/Bomb
Ocho- 65% Short/mid, 35% Deep/Bomb

Compare to a true possession reciever like Anquan Boldin, who maxed out at 27% Deep/Bomb, and in 2007 and 2008 dipped to 19% and 10%.

by R. Carney (not verified) :: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 8:52pm

A little poetic justice for T.O. to bitch for an entire career about having Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb, and Tony Romo throwing him the football? You thought that was bad? Here you go, Terrell, spend a year in the ninth circle of Dante's Inferno with Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Tue, 03/02/2010 - 9:46am

Agreed. As much as the guy likes to complain, you'd never guess that he had above average QBs for almost his entire career.