Bengals trade Ochocinco to New England

Published 12:52 am Friday, July 29, 2011

With the trade of Chad Ochocinco (85) to New England on Thursday, the Cincinnati Bengals appear ready to play the season without their top two receivers from last year in Ochocinco and Terrell Owens (right). (The Ironton Tribune / MCT Direct)

The Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Chad Ochocinco’s next stop is New England after an offseason in which he had a soccer tryout, rode a bull, took a spin in a race car and waited to be traded.

That wait ended on Thursday when the outspoken wide receiver was dealt to the Patriots, a team coached by Bill Belichick, who closely monitors, and tries to control, his players’ public comments.

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A person with knowledge of the trade said the Patriots obtained the colorful Ochocinco from Cincinnati and that he agreed to a new three-year contract. It was not known what the Bengals received in return.

The person spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because neither team had announced the trade. The deal was first reported by ESPN.

It was the second major move by the Patriots, who earlier in the day obtained Albert Haynesworth, the disgruntled Washington Redskins defensive tackle, for a fifth-round draft pick in 2013.

The relationship between Belichick and Ochocinco, with extremely different public personas, is unexpectedly warm.

“I like Chad,” Belichick said before last year’s season opener between the teams. “I like him as a player. I like him as a person. I like his enthusiasm and the fun he has with football, and I like how he competes on the football field. I have a lot of respect for that.

“An odd couple, but in the end I think we have a lot of things in common.”

They grew closer during Pro Bowl practices.

“It became a relationship beyond just a football player and a coach,” Ochocinco said. “He became a friend of mine. He has a lot of respect for me in my game and I have a lot of respect for him in everything he’s done as a coach.

“We just became really close and fond of each other’s work. He’s one that I look up to tremendously, one that I’ve never played for, but I show the same respect as if he was my own head coach.”

Now Belichick is his coach.

Ochocinco, who caught 12 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown in a 38-24 Patriots win last year, provides another option for Tom Brady, who has been without a deep target since the Patriots traded Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings after four games last season. In 10 seasons, all with the Bengals, Ochocinco has 751 catches for 10,783 yards and 66 touchdowns. He has made the Pro Bowl six times.

But when the Bengals drafted wide receiver A.J. Green in the first round in April, it became likely that Ochocinco would be released, traded or told to take a large pay cut.

The trade follows a one-year partnership with wide receiver Terrell Owens. Ochocinco dubbed the pair “Batman and Robin.” They combined for 139 catches and 13 touchdowns, but the Bengals were 4-12.

Ochocinco joins a receiving corps that includes Wes Welker and Deion Branch, along with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, both coming off outstanding rookie seasons.

With the lockout over, it’s back to football for Ochocinco, who may have to negotiate for Hernandez’s No. 85 jersey.

Wearing a helmet and standard protective vest, Ochocinco rode a 1,500-pound bull named Deja Blu on May 14 on the Professional Bull Riders circuit. He earned $10,000 for making it out of the chute but was bucked off after just 1.5 seconds with no apparent injury.

On June 30, he rode in a race car at the Atlanta Motor Speedway with Jeff Burton, who estimated he reached speeds of 150 to 160 mph.

Earlier in the offseason, Ochocinco had a soccer tryout with Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer. Last year he was one of four finalists on the Dancing With the Stars television show.

Under Belichick, though, it’s all football — and Ochocinco has been outstanding at that

He’s exceeded 1,000 yards receiving in seven of his 10 seasons, including an NFL-high 1,369 in 2006. Last season, he had 67 catches for 831 yards and four touchdowns.

Belichick now must work Ochocinco into the offense — and get used to his prolific use of Twitter.

Ochocinco was fined $25,000 by the NFL for using the social media network during a preseason game, apologized and has followed the guidelines since.

Four days before last year’s opener against Cincinnati, Belichick was asked if he follows Ochocinco’s tweets.

The coach smiled, and joked, “I don’t do Twitter or MyFace or any of that stuff,” a takeoff on MySpace and Facebook.

Now he can communicate with Ochocinco in person.