With little production in 2011 and the vast improvement in wide receivers, it seemed as though Chad Ochocinco would no longer be a part of the New England Patriots. However, the former pro bowler has shown his commitment to the organization by agreeing to a restructuring of his deal which lowers his base salary from $3 million to $1 million.
Although most professional athletes claim that winning is more important than money, most players are more likely to join the worst team in the league if it gets them a slightly higher salary. In a free agent year where wide receivers are being signed for exuberant amounts of money, it seems almost unthinkable that a player would consider lowering his annual intake to show commitment to a team but that seems to be what Ochocinco has done.
The Patriots were on the verge of cutting the receiver they had brought in to replace Randy Moss and had they done so, likely Ochocinco would have gotten his payday. Though the 34-year old only recorded 15 catches for 276 yards in 2011, between 2002 and 2009 he recorded no less than 69 catches and 1,047 yards except for 2008 which saw him play in only 13 games.
Throughout the offseason, Ochocinco has seemed troubled by his lack of production in 2011. In January, he claimed his issue was getting to know the system. It’s a problem he and his agent have vowed that he’ll fix in 2012.
In a contract restructuring that has been in the works for the past few weeks, the deal was announced Sunday. As to why the receiver would take this pay cut to remain with a team that could see him drop to a low as fifth on the depth chart, agent Drew Rosenhaus told reporters he has “unfinished business” with the Patriots.
The Patriots have made many moves during this offseason at the position placing the franchise tag on Wes Welker, re-signing Deion Branch, and signing free agents Brandon Lloyd and Donte Stallworth. Following the worst season in his career, Ochocinco’s departure wouldn’t have been questioned by many.
After being traded from Cincinnati for two late-round draft picks, the formerly flamboyant superstar seemed to have become a team player even going as far as buying his teammates headphones for their flight to Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI. This latest move seems to add to his ever-changing image.
While Ochocinco has proven his commitment off the field, his commitment on the field will remain to be seen. He’ll get his chance to prove to the team his worth in late July when the team begins training camp.