Donahue will try to trade Owens

Updated: March 2, 2004, 6:22 PM ET
Associated Press

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Terrell Owens has been given permission by the San Francisco 49ers to seek a trade after the four-time Pro Bowl receiver forgot to become a free agent.

San Francisco general manager Terry Donahue also will try to trade Owens, who missed a deadline last month to void the final three seasons of his contract. He still is under contract to the 49ers, pending a grievance filed by his agent, David Joseph.

"I think it's very improbable that he would be back," Donahue said Tuesday. "Both parties have agreed to pursue a trade very actively in the next 72 hours."

Donahue dismissed a report that the 49ers would accept a draft pick at the end of the first round in exchange for allowing Owens to become an unrestricted free agent.

Owens caught 80 passes for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns last season -- his lowest totals since 1999. He has been selected to the last four Pro Bowls while feuding with teammates, coaches, the 49ers' front office and the media.

Owens has been expected to leave San Francisco since early last season, when he spoke of his interest in playing for other teams. Joseph's mix-up might have cost Owens many millions in a new contract, though any team that acquired Owens almost certainly would sign him to a new deal.

"He's probably better off playing someplace else," coach Dennis Erickson said. "That's pretty obvious. That's been there for a long period of time."

The 49ers got under the salary cap Tuesday by releasing quarterback Jeff Garcia and guard Ron Stone. They also restructured the contracts of seven players: Pro Bowl fullback Fred Beasley, tackle Scott Gragg, defensive tackle Bryant Young, center Jeremy Newberry, safety Tony Parrish, defensive end Andre Carter and linebacker Derek Smith.

San Francisco also tendered contracts to receiver Cedrick Wilson, kick returner Jimmy Williams and tight end Eric Johnson.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press