There's been a lot of speculation about the Falcons filling their slot role with a receiver old enough to remember Teddy Roosevelt.
D. Orlando Ledbetter was crushing on Randy Moss. Readers extolled the virtues of Terrell Owens. Somehow, Hines Ward became involved. The common thread behind all those guys, the reasoning seems to go, is that they were great, could still be great and at the least would bring veteran savvy to the Falcons.
Sorry, guys, but none of that is true. It's an exercise in wishful thinking at a time when the Falcons need to get more dynamic production out of the slot, not less. There's some resistance to signing a guy like Robert Meachem, but with his superior wheels and youth, he's a better bet than any of the three I just mentioned.
Want reasons? I'll go receiver-by-receiver.
Randy Moss. Moss was out of the NFL last year for a reason. One of the most naturally gifted receivers of all-time, Moss gained a reputation for dogging it that was well-deserved. He played his way out of a lot of towns by not giving maximum effort and still had a Hall of Fame career. Hey, can't knock it.
Now, though, Moss is longer on hubris than he is on actual skill. He's lost a step, remains a divisive personality and claims he can run a 4.3 40 when NFL personnel types pretty much agree that's impossible. At this point in his career, he's nothing more than a cagey possession guy with the occasional burst of speed. He bounced across three teams in 2010 and only caught 28 passes, so it's fair to say he was looking washed up before he took a year off.
You think you hate when Roddy White drops passes? Are you going to love it when Moss comes up short on a route, or when he just can't get to a long Matt Ryan pass? You are not.
Terrell Owens. Same thing as Moss, really. He's still a physical specimen and a potential future Hall of Famer, but Owens took a year off and no one's really sure what he's got left in the tank.
He averaged 13.7 yards in 2010, which is quality but lower than his career average by a noticeable margin. He didn't play at all in 2011 and remains as divisive a figure as he's ever been. I'm not saying the Falcons should strive for a team full of Boy Scouts, but they certainly recognize that Owens is 38 years old, losing a little speed and without a significant attitude adjustment. Again, the Falcons aren't adding a dynamic option at slot receiver by adding Owens. They're adding a big guy who might fill a possession role.
Hines Ward. Easily the worst option of the bunch.
Ward has never been as good or as big as Owens or Moss, and his career yards per catch average is just 12.1. Last year, the 35-year-old caught 46 passes and averaged just over 8 yards per catch, easily a career low. Steelers fans, who love the guy dearly, will freely admit that he's approaching the end of his career at warp speed.
The Falcons have Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez to handle short routes. They don't need to add a slot receiver who's only quality trait at this point is that he's sure-handed.
None of these will happen. Take it to the bank.