Terrell Owens, the 38-year-old future Hall of Famer, will bring plenty of baggage to Seattle. Is he worth the trouble?

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Forget the quarterback competition. The Seahawks’ most intriguing and maddening showdown pits their need for better receiving options against their desire to maintain ideal locker-room chemistry.

Let’s put it in question form: How much craziness are they willing to digest to improve their talent?

Well, if they’re serious about adding Terrell Owens to the mix, the answer is a lot.

And if that doesn’t sound as scary as it does enticing, then you’re not being realistic.

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T.O., the most infamous initials in sports, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Seahawks. It’s a low-risk commitment, and if it doesn’t work out, the Seahawks could easily cut him at any time. But for as long as the high-maintenance future Hall of Famer is in town, he always has the potential to spur a disastrous level of drama. On a team that already must monitor Marshawn Lynch, Kellen Winslow Jr. and Braylon Edwards (if he makes the team) for various reasons, this is both a dangerous acquisition and a fascinating experiment.

And you thought this training camp was boring compared to the Pete Carroll-era norm.

Get your popcorn, Skittles and legal issues ready. The new Seahawks have taken the stage.


Carroll, who has never met a difficult man that he didn’t want to reform, has decided to leverage some of the Seahawks’ character to make the offense better. Carroll thinks he has the locker room that can absorb a few volatile personalities.

If it were any other coach, I wouldn’t give this a chance, but Carroll inspires some confidence because he’s an incredible communicator, and despite his sunny disposition, he knows when to swing the ax. Consider the commonality among Lynch, Winslow, Edwards and Owens, who should now be considered the modern-day Fearsome Foursome.

You can even throw rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin, who used football to get out of a life of crime, in this conversation. These players are alike in their competitiveness, swagger and desire to be great. They’re almost ornery in their aspiration, which is good.

When it comes to will, they have great football character, and that’s why Carroll is willing to take a chance.

Owens is probably the only 38-year-old athlete coming off a major knee injury that I’d give a chance to make a successful comeback. When we last saw him in the NFL, in 2010, he caught 72 passes in 14 games and scored nine touchdowns for Cincinnati. He has failed to catch at least 55 passes only twice in his 15-year career: his rookie season and, in 2005, when Philadelphia sent him home after seven games because he was tearing the Eagles apart.

Last season, Doug Baldwin led the Seahawks with 51 receptions and 788 yards.

Even though he turns 39 in December and missed all of last season recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), it’s possible that Owens is still the kind of big-play receiver that could help the Seahawks.

Edwards is getting a look for that reason, too. The Seahawks have many young, likable receivers, and they have a potential No. 1 receiver if Sidney Rice is healthy, but they’re still lacking at that position. They’re still hoping that Golden Tate, who has been terrific in training camp, lives up to his talent. They’re still hoping that Baldwin can do even more, and that Ben Obomanu, Deon Butler or Kris Durham can become consistent threats.

While they’re hoping on offense, the defense is ready to carry them to the postseason. This is Year 3 for Carroll, and though he has done tremendous work developing this young team, he has had two losing seasons and needs a breakthrough in 2012. If the Seahawks can settle on a quarterback and support him with enough weapons, there’s little doubt the Seahawks could make significant progress.

Once again, the Seahawks’ front office is thinking the right way, and general manager John Schneider is exploring all options to make the team better. This is the Seahawks’ third year bargain shopping for reclamation projects, and they’ve benefited from the philosophy.

But T.O.? It’s like the Seahawks are determined to test the sturdiness of what they’ve built before the renovations are complete. It’s like they want their three-man quarterback competition to be as stressful as possible. Owens’ résumé — 1,078 career receptions, 15,934 yards, 153 touchdowns — dictates that he’ll receive opportunities for as long as he can run fast. Still, you have to wonder if any of Owens’ five former teams have exited the T.O. Experience feeling like his talent was worth the sideshow.

Over the next few days, you will hear about how the injury and year away from the NFL has humbled Owens. He’s eloquent and captivating, and after a round of interviews, it’s likely that you’ll fall for Owens and start wondering whether the Seahawks just got lucky.

It would be a storybook ending to Owens’ career. He has never truly gotten the credit he deserves, but mostly that’s his fault. He has stressed out too many organizations and too many quarterbacks, and unless he’s the perfect citizen, the victor among quarterback candidates Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson might have to celebrate by purchasing Advil and earplugs.

If only the Seahawks could have the talent and not the obstacles.

If only they could have the T and not the O.

Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or jbrewer@seattletimes.com.

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