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Jason Cole on M&M: Chad Ochocinco ‘the happiest I have ever seen him’

08.11.11 at 1:43 pm ET
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Yahoo! Sports NFL reporter Jason Cole joined the Mut & Merloni show on Thursday to discuss Albert Haynesworth‘s contract, Chad Ochocinco joining the Patriots and other Patriots and NFL news. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Haynesworth and Ochocinco restructured their contracts on Tuesday. Cole reported that Haynesworth’s base salary will be $1.5 million as opposed to the $5.4 million that he was supposed to earn. He has incentives built in to the contract such as $1 million if he plays in 20 percent of the plays, among other things.

“It gives Albert a huge incentive to be in shape all year and get himself healthy,” Cole said. “Albert has had some injury issues in the past. Even when he has been at the top of his game he has generally missed a game or two, sometimes three, during a season. He is going to have to stay on top of that as much as possible. If they can get him healthy and get him on the field, he could be a huge difference maker.”

Next season Haynesworth will be due $6.7 million, and he will have to prove this season that he deserves that kind of money.

“I think it is one of those things where you revisit from year to year,” Cole said. “If he has all those incentives and makes the $5.8 million as a Pro Bowler, I think they are more than happy to pay him $7 million next year, or deal with it however you want to deal with it. … If Albert Haynesworth earns the money this year, he will be worth it next year.”

Cole said the Patriots got Haynesworth and Ochocinco at the right time.

“It always good to get a guy when he is desperate to leave another place,” he said. “To get away from whatever environment he has been in, especially like Ochocinco in Cincinnati. I saw Chad about a week ago and that is the happiest I have ever seen him. He was ecstatic. He probably would have crawled from Cincinnati to Boston to play for the Patriots.”

The Jets are considered one of the AFC favorites, but Cole has some concerns.

“They’re pretty much the same team that they were last year,” he said. “My question is: Is that good enough to get them back to where they were? This is a team that survived an awful lot of close games. … If those games change significantly, you’re talking about much closer to a .500 team that maybe struggles and doesn’t get to the playoffs.”

With the shortened offseason, Cole said there will not be as much parity as in past years.

“I think we are going to see a lot of teams really struggle the first four or five games,” Cole said. “Some teams that really bottom out because they didn’t have an offseason to get ready, and they are just going to have to accept that as a one-year down slide. Denver is awful. Carolina is awful. It is not their fault, more so much circumstance. … There are going to be a lot of teams that will really struggle. Tennessee will be bad, Jacksonville will be bad, Buffalo is going to struggle, Miami, that is a train wreck waiting to happen. I think parity is going to be missing this year, but it will come back.”

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco, Jason Cole,
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