Owens: Eagles are my 'A' choice

Updated: March 6, 2004, 8:21 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PHILADELPHIA -- Even though he was traded to Baltimore, Terrell Owens says he is unsure whether he will report to the Ravens and still hopes to catch passes from Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia next season.

One day after the San Francisco 49ers sent the four-time Pro Bowl receiver to the Ravens, Owens told ESPN's Andrea Kremer he's not happy with the deal and plans to file a grievance.

"This is about me getting a fair shot at a team that I want to go to. Baltimore is definitely one of my choices, but Philly was my 'A' choice, my priority on my list," Owens said in an interview with Kremer late Friday night. "I talked to my agent earlier and we're going to file a grievance for the situation and we're going to hope for the best possible situation."

Chad Steele, a spokesman for the Ravens, said Saturday: "We have a valid contract with Terrell and we expect him to play for the Ravens." He declined to answer any other questions.

Desperate for a No. 1 receiver, the Eagles reportedly agreed to a contract with Owens that included a signing bonus believed to be worth about $10 million. But the volatile receiver was traded to the Ravens for a second-round pick Thursday before Philadelphia could complete a trade with the 49ers.

Eagles president Joe Banner told reporters on Saturday that while he didn't believe San Francisco "handled it the right way" by trading Owens to Baltimore after giving the Eagles permission to talk to Owens' agent, Banner didn't feel the Eagles had much recourse.

"I don't think what San Francisco did was against league rules," Banner said. "But I'm very disappointed that we were given permission to work something out and then they made this trade without giving us the chance to talk about anything else."

"What everybody did was certainly legal," Banner added. "San Francisco did control his rights and did have the right to trade him."

San Francisco general manager Terry Donahue said Eagles coach Andy Reid offered a fifth-round pick and wide receiver James Thrash for Owens.

"We had no interest in that whatsoever," Donahue said.

Donahue said he countered with a list of other players he'd want for Owens, but the teams couldn't agree on a deal.

"I told Andy we were going to move really quick and that we had a second-round pick and that if he had any further interest to call me back," Donahue said.

"I'm just as shocked as everyone else," said Owens in a Baltimore Sun report. "We were on the cusp of having something worked out with the Eagles and then the unfortunate happened within a matter of minutes."

Two Eagles sources told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the team reached a financial agreement with Owens and were about to contact the 49ers when they heard about the trade to the Ravens on television.

The sources said the Eagles had been pleasantly surprised at the financial deal, since Owens had reportedly been seeking a signing bonus equal to or exceeding $18 million -- the same bonus Randy Moss received from Minnesota in 2000, the Inquirer reported.

"I want to go where I feel comfortable and where I can be happy. I don't want to go anywhere where someone just trades me off to," Owens said. I feel like I'm entitled as a free agent to have my choice. Obviously I want to get paid, but at the same time, I want to get happy, too."

Owens told Kremer, "He [Donahue] knows he doesn't want to see me on an NFC team."

Owens failed to become a free agent this week when he missed a deadline last month to void the final three seasons of his contract. Joseph already filed a grievance with the NFL Management Council through the players' union in an effort to resolve that matter.

A source in the NFL office told the Inquirer that Joseph has not yet filed a grievance in protest of Owens' trade to Baltimore, and that the league considers the trade a done deal.

Owens contends he received no notification about the date change that resulted in his lost free agency, and isn't being treated fairly by the NFL or the players' association.

"We're not idiots," Owens said. "This is something we've been waiting on. The 49ers have known that I was more than possibly going to void my contract. There's been a lot of backstabbing going on the last couple of years.''

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 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.

When asked by Kremer if he would report to the Ravens, Owens said, "at this point I can't say what I am going to do."

The Eagles had perhaps the league's worst starting receivers, Thrash and Todd Pinkston. The duo combined for just 85 catches and three TDs last season. In Philadelphia's 14-3 loss to Carolina in the NFC championship game, Thrash had one catch and Pinkston had none.

The Eagles, who have lost the conference title game the last three years, upgraded their defense by signing three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jevon Kearse to a $66 million, eight-year deal. But they still need a top target for McNabb, who has openly campaigned for the team to acquire Owens.

Owens spent all eight of his NFL seasons with the 49ers, who drafted him in the third round in 1996.

He and Indianapolis' Marvin Harrison are the only receivers with more than 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns over the past four seasons.

Owens also is known for a series of on-field celebrations and off-field conflicts.

Two years ago, he pulled out a pen and signed a ball after scoring a touchdown in Seattle. He wasn't fined for the move but was severely chastised by commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who said he would be disciplined for future stunts.

Owens also precipitated a melee during a game by dancing on the Dallas Cowboys' star at midfield after scoring.

He threw a sideline tantrum during a game against Cleveland last season, and lost it again the following week against Minnesota, chewing out offensive coordinator Greg Knapp after the 49ers were stopped on a fourth-and-1 running play.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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