Ten Bills to Decide 2009, No. 2: WR Terrell Owens

The Buffalo Bills knew it was a problem in 2006 - WR Lee Evans didn't have a running mate.  The team had just released veteran WR Eric Moulds, and though they'd given out a four-year extension to slot man Josh Reed, the team knew they'd be in trouble if they didn't get some help on the outside for Evans.  So they went out and signed Peerless Price to a four-year deal; Price wasn't great, but he was a threat, and that allowed Evans to have his best season as a pro.

Then Price got hurt early in the 2007 season.  Reed became the team's No. 2 wideout again, and Evans' production slipped tremendously - a problem made worse by the Bills' flip-flopping between quarterbacks Trent Edwards and J.P. Losman throughout the season.  Price was released after the season, and is now out of football.  The Bills needed help at receiver again, so they drafted James Hardy in the second round and Steve Johnson in the seventh.  Both had their (brief) moments in the sun in 2008, but once again, Reed spent most of the season as the team's second wideout.

So the Bills were at it again early in free agency this past March, heavily courting WR Laveranues Coles, a productive veteran that had just been released by the New York Jets.  However, Coles eventually took more money to play in Cincinnati.  Left searching once again, the Bills stumbled upon another veteran receiver to help open up their anemic passing attack - and he just happens to be the most controversial player in the league.

Terrell Owens is going to make an impact in Buffalo simply by stepping onto the football field.  (He's certainly already made an impact off of it.)  If Peerless Price's presence helps account for Evans' best season when Price himself only caught 49 passes, Owens will have a positive impact - even if whispers of declining skills are accurate.  We already know that Owens does very good things for his quarterbacks.

Seriously, think about that.  Owens will very likely make Buffalo's offense better just by being on the field.  But "better" likely equates to "average", and for a team with playoff aspirations, that's not good enough.  At a bare minimum, "above average" is required, but "potent" is ideal - and Owens can help them reach that plateau as well.  How? Catching touchdowns.  Owens has 38 touchdown receptions over the last three years.  Buffalo's passers have thrown 45 touchdowns in the same time period.  If there's one area that Owens can take Buffalo's offense from terrible to great, it's putting the ball in the paint in the red zone.  If he does that, we're golden.

It's rare that one player can make such a monumental difference to a football team.  Even with a declining skill set, Owens has the chance to have that type of rare impact in Buffalo - even with a young quarterback and a completely re-tooled offensive line.  That alone makes him far more important to Buffalo's potential success than most of his new teammates.  With an average Owens, Buffalo's offense gets better.  With a very good Owens, the sky is the limit for that unit - and this team is built to succeed with a potent offensive attack.

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