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Owens remains under contract with Niners

SAN FRANCISCO -- Terrell Owens is still under contract to the San Francisco 49ers
after the star receiver apparently missed a deadline for voiding
the rest of his contract.

Owens, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, didn't file the necessary
paperwork quickly enough this week to become an unrestricted free
agent, according to the NFL Management Council. Owens' agent, David
Joseph, will file a grievance.

"We voided the contract. There's an issue now as to whether or
not the void was effective," Joseph said.

Owens was among several players required to file by a new
deadline, which recently was moved up 10 days for players who
signed their contracts before the league's 2001 collective
bargaining agreement went into effect.

Cleveland receiver Dennis Northcutt made a similar mistake. The
Browns announced Thursday that Northcutt's agent failed to void the
final three years of his contract by Feb. 19, keeping him with
Cleveland.

By missing the deadline, Owens is under contract to San
Francisco through 2006 -- and the 49ers get an unexpected bonus in
what's shaping up to be a difficult offseason. The 49ers also
released three veterans on Thursday: running back Garrison Hearst,
offensive tackle Derrick Deese and defensive lineman Sean Moran.

"I have spoken to the NFL Management Council and they have
confirmed that Terrell Owens will not be among the players listed
as an unrestricted free agent," 49ers general manager Terry
Donahue said.

The mix-up doesn't necessarily mean Owens will play for the
Niners next season. The team had expected to lose him in free
agency for practically nothing, so San Francisco might use Owens'
contract status to work out a trade.

Owens is due to make $17.7 million in base salary over the next
three seasons, including $5.3 million next year -- a relative
bargain for one of the NFL's best receivers.

He had been counting on a big payday in his first venture onto
the free-agent market, hoping to land a signing bonus of more than
$15 million from Baltimore, Philadelphia, Atlanta or a handful of
other teams with the cap space to sign a star receiver.

Owens has spent all eight of his NFL seasons with the 49ers, who
drafted him in the third round in 1996. He has been chosen to the
last four Pro Bowls, but missed the game earlier this month with a
broken collarbone.

Owens and Indianapolis' Marvin Harrison are the only receivers
with more than 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns over the past four
seasons. Owens had 80 catches for 1,102 yards and nine TDs last
season -- his lowest totals since 1999.

Owens also has feuded with teammates, coaches, management and
the media in recent seasons. While Owens spoke openly of his desire
to move to another team in the offseason, the 49ers designated
All-Pro linebacker Julian Peterson as their exclusive franchise
player -- apparently conceding they wouldn't sign Owens.