Eagles pursuing part of T.O.'s signing bonus
For the second time in five months, the Philadelphia Eagles have requested that exiled wide receiver Terrell Owens repay part of the signing bonus that he received when the club signed him to a seven-year, $49 million contract in 2004.
And this time, team sources said, the Eagles plan to collect.
Those sources confirmed that the Eagles last week apprised Owens in writing of their intent to recover $1.725 million of his original $2.3 million signing bonus. Team officials have forwarded the pertinent paperwork to the league alerting NFL officials of their intentions. And there is a chance that the club will garnish Owens' wages for the final five games of the season, or $191,176 per week, as part of the repayment.
Owens, of course, will not play again this season, even though his four-week suspension for conduct detrimental to the team has expired. He was deactivated by the Eagles for the Monday night game against the Seattle Seahawks. In his 38-page decision of Nov. 23, arbitrator Richard Bloch ruled that the Eagles were permitted to not only suspend Owens for four games, but also to deactivate him for the final five contests of the 2005 season.
Bloch cited "unparalleled detriment" to the Eagles resulting from Owens' actions in which the wide receiver criticized coaches and team officials, along with quarterback Donovan McNabb. Monday night's game at Lincoln Financial Field will be the first for which Owens is deactivated.
The Eagles crafted Owens' contract carefully and precisely, in part to protect themselves financially, and there is very specific "default" language which provided the team the prerogative to seek repayment of a prorated portion of his signing bonus if he was suspended for more than one game. As part of Bloch's ruling, which players feel might give teams far more latitude in matters of discipline, it was revealed that the Eagles first requested repayment of a portion of Owens' signing bonus in July.
In a letter to Owens signed by head coach Andy Reid, the club cited the wide receiver's absence from a mandatory mini-camp. That letter read in part: "Should you fail to repay that total amount by August 12, 2005, we will begin deducting the above amount in equal installments from your game checks, and any other compensation owed to you by the club, or we will initiate a non-injury grievance for repayment of money owed to the club due to your breach."
Despite that letter, the Eagles did not follow through in attempting to recoup the signing bonus money or in withholding paychecks.
If the Eagles do, indeed, garnish all or a portion of Owens' game checks over the final five weeks of the season, almost certainly will precipitate another non-injury grievance filed by the NFL Players Association on his behalf.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was also used in this report. To check out Len's chat archive, click here .
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