Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chad Johnson arrested on domestic battery charge

Coming off an entirely ineffective 2011 season in New England and an offseason in which he received almost no interest in free agency due to his waning talent and irritating antics, 34-year-old Chad Johnson was on his last legs when the Miami Dolphins gave him a chance to be their No. 1 wideout in 2012.

According to reports, Johnson was arrested at his home Saturday evening for allegedly headbutting his wife during an argument in their car. Johnson and his spouse of just over a month—former Basketball Wives reality television personality Evelyn Lozada—were driving home from dinner when an argument arose after Lozada found a receipt for a box of condoms in his car.

The argument apparently became heated as they arrived home and Lozada claims Johnson headbutted her. According to the Palm Beach Post's Ben Volin, Lozada was treated for a laceration on her face at the scene and was later transported to a nearby hospital.

A once highly-productive wide receiver with the Cincinnati Bengals known for his clownish personality and eccentric touchdown celebrations, Johnson caught a career-low 15 passes with the Patriots in 2011 and dropped the only pass thrown his way in Friday's preseason debut against the Buccaneers.

But despite his struggles in 2011 as well as those in the preseason, Johnson has widely been projected to be the Dolphins' No. 1 receiver this season after the departure of Brandon Marshall, who coincidentally has a long history of brushes with the law because of domestic issues.

Johnson himself had never been arrested during his NFL career until Saturday night, but it seems quite likely this could spell the end for a receiver that was already dangerously close to wearing out his welcome in the league long before the Dolphins signed him. The Dolphins also can't really justify keeping him after he may have exhibited the same kind of behavior (domestic violence) that already got a much more talented receiver in Marshall shipped out of town.

Given his advanced age, the lack of production he displayed last season and the damning accusations that got him thrown in jail tonight, I see no reason for the Dolphins to spent another day with Johnson on the roster and would prefer to see them cut ties completely by terminating his contract on Sunday.

While Johnson might have been poised for some sort of a rebound season in 2012 and could have brought a veteran presence and proven commodity to the Dolphins' receiving corps, he and his often obnoxious antics are no longer worth the aggravation for a rookie head coach in what is likely going to amount to a lame-duck year anyway.

Assuming Johnson is released by the Dolphins, the team's already-thin and nationally-lambasted receiving corps gets even thinner. It would likely lock veteran free-agent addition Legedu Naanee, who has reportedly had a tremendous training camp, into a starting role despite five uninspiring seasons with the Chargers and Panthers.

It'd also give Brian Hartline and second-year speedster Clyde Gates better chances of regaining some ground after injuries have caused them to miss extensive time in camp. Reliable-as-always slot receiver Davone Bess would likely continue to play a safety-blanket role for the quarterback, as would veteran tight end Anthony Fasano.

Finally, Johnson being off the team would potentially open up an all-new roster spot for one of the many receivers battling for a backup job. Roberto Wallace and Julius Pruitt, who have worked primarily on special teams with the Dolphins but have had strong camps on offense, could both make the team as a result. Late-round picks B. J. Cunningham and Rishard Matthews, as well as undrafted rookie Jeff Fuller, would also see slight bumps in their chances.

While it's unfortunate that the Dolphins lost a potential No. 1 receiver for 2012 less than a month away from the regular season opener, people shouldn't be quick to overreact because the long-term damage is practically nonexistent.

While holes in the roster beyond receiver would likely keep this season around six-to-eight wins, the 2013 season, on the other hand, is when the fresh start really begins. First-rounder Ryan Tannehill will almost certainly be the starter by then (if he doesn't end this season in that role) and the team will enter the next offseason with a myriad of expendable free agents and a bevvy of salary cap space as a result.

I understand that Johnson is innocent until proven guilty and that we don't know what truly happened at his house tonight without being there, but I personally am ready to cut ties now solely with what we already know—that a potentially washed-up and obnoxious receiver with a history of being a locker room distraction has been accused of a violent crime at the worst possible time in his waning career.

The Dolphins weren't going to win the Super Bowl in 2012 with Chad Johnson on the team, and they have nothing to lose (except maybe a game or two that would mean nothing more than a better draft pick) by enduring the 2012 season without him and the distractions he brings.


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