Johnson, Moss, Owens back for one last rodeo

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Veteran action heroes Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzeneggar will be seen on movie screens across the country when the second installment of "The Expendables" franchise hits theaters next Friday.

In a similar display of aging talent, the trio of Chad Johnson, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens will take to the gridiron this fall to wage one final battle.

Their journey probably won't involve many explosions and I'm sure utterances of the phrase "yippee-ki-yay" will be kept to a minimum, but this group of 30- something wide receivers should still be plenty of fun to watch in 2012.

But entertainment value and statistical relevance are often two entirely different things.

The zany but ultra-talented combination of Johnson, Moss and Owens dominated the mid-2000s. Between 2005-2009, they reeled in 1,085 passes for 16,330 receiving yards and 144 touchdowns. Since 2010, they've combined for just 182 catches, 2,483 yards and 19 scores.

Luckily for these fallen stars, we all love a good comeback story.

Owens, the oldest of the three, appears well on his way to returning to fantasy relevance. During his tryout with the Seattle Seahawks earlier in the week, the embattled 38-year-old recorded a blazing fast time in the 40-yard dash. His time of 4.43 was only .07 slower than the fastest time registered at the NFL Combine this past offseason (Travis Benjamin of the Cleveland Browns ran a 4.36).

T.O. is currently fifth on Seattle's depth chart at wide receiver but given the inconsistency of the players slotted ahead of him, it's feasable that he could ascend the ranks and become a factor by the time the regular season starts. Owens didn't play in the NFL last year but since 2000, the six-time Pro Bowler has never finished a full season with fewer than 800 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Doug Baldwin, the Seahawks' leading receiver from a year ago, accumulated just 788 yards and four touchdowns last season.

New Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn did not see the field much during his four seasons as a Green Bay Packer. That's understandable, considering he was playing behind an MVP in Aaron Rodgers.

Because of this, Flynn is a relatively unproven commodity. But in the limited action he has seen, Flynn has mostly been on target, compiling a 92.8 quarterback rating in 34 career games. In 2011, he racked up 518 yards on 49 pass attempts with his breakout performance coming in Week 17 when he set a Green Bay record with 480 yards passing and six TDs against the Detroit Lions. It's a small sampling size but if Flynn is really as accurate as his numbers indicate, T.O. and the rest of the Seahawks' receivers could be in for big seasons in 2012.

Moss also spent the 2011 season away from the NFL, choosing to retire last August after 13 years in the league. His retirement didn't last long however and now it appears he'll begin the 2012 campaign as a starter for the NFC West Champion San Francisco 49ers.

Though at least some of Moss' dominance in the mid-2000s can be attributed to playing alongside perennial MVP candidate Tom Brady, it's pretty hard to completely ignore a guy who has caught 153 touchdowns in his career.

I like to call Moss "Monty Python" because he's never quite dead. See, most fantasy owners thought he was after producing a measly 553 yards and three TDs in 2006. All he did the following year was blow up for 1,493 yards and a league-record 23 touchdowns. Moss has made a habit of resurrecting his career just when it looks like it should be over.

When Moss is engaged, he is always one of the most dangerous players on the field. Moss has never won a Super Bowl and in 2012, he'll be playing for a team that has a very realistic chance of achieving that lofty standard. Expect Moss to exhibit razor-sharp focus this season as he searches for that elusive first ring.

Johnson didn't take the year off like Moss and Owens did but he may as well have. The artist formerly known as "Ochocinco" looked so lost in New England's offense last season he should have been allowed to use Mapquest. His dismal effort (15 catches, 276 yards, one TD) a year ago marked the second season in a row that Johnson failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving and the third time he's missed the mark in the last four years.

It's hard to imagine that things will get any better for Johnson now that he's with the Dolphins, a team with perhaps the most unstable quarterback situation in the league. David Garrard appeared to be the clear starter but now that he is injured (knee surgery), journeyman Matt Moore and rookie Ryan Tannehill are the only options Miami has left at the quarterback position.

On top of that, it's yet to be determined whether or not Johnson will be suspended or released following his arrest for domestic violence on Saturday, but it's sure to complicate things and at the very least it will alter his focus over the next couple of weeks.

Even before Saturday's trouble, Johnson was the player I was least optimistic about heading into 2012. With that said, he's a much better fit in Miami than he was in New England and he should have a chance to start. Forty or 50 catches and a few touchdowns doesn't seem like it would be out of the realm of possibilities for the 34-year-old, assuming he stays with the team.

I'm not promising that Johnson, Moss or Owens will be worth anything more than late-round selections but they're at least worth thinking about. Remember, sometimes it's better to go with the devil you know than the devil you don't.

Keep these three high maintenance veterans in the back of your mind on draft day and as the great Terrell Owens once said, "Get your popcorn ready."

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at

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