Ravens, Niners compensated in settlement

Originally Published: March 17, 2004
ESPN.com news services

PHILADELPHIA -- Terrell Owens can catch passes from Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia instead of just in Hawaii.

Owens got his wish to play for the Eagles, following a settlement reached Tuesday before an arbitrator could rule on the star receiver's case to become a free agent.

Owens' deal with the Eagles is for seven years and $42 million, reports ESPN.com's John Clayton.

"I'm so excited to be here and to play with D-Mac," said Owens, who has played with McNabb in the Pro Bowl three times. "I feel like I fit in real nice here. I'm comfortable with the West Coast offense. The touchdowns I've had in the Pro Bowl, Donovan has thrown them to me. That just comes with two athletes going out there and making plays, just chemistry in the making."

The Eagles sent a fifth-round draft pick to Baltimore and defensive end Brandon Whiting to San Francisco. The Ravens got back the second-round pick they sent to the 49ers for Owens.

"If the arbitrator ruled he was a free agent, he could have gone anywhere. This was the Eagles assuring that he came to them," said Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players' Association.

Owens, who spent eight sometimes controversial seasons with San Francisco, was supposed to become a free agent March 3. But his agent, David Joseph, failed to file papers voiding the final years of his contract by a Feb. 21 deadline.

The 49ers then dealt the four-time Pro Bowl receiver to the Ravens on March 4, after Owens had agreed to a contract with the Eagles.

Owens protested the trade to the Ravens, refused to show up for a physical and insisted he wanted to play for the Eagles. The union filed a grievance on Owens' behalf to make him a free agent.

"My heart was in Philly," Owens said.

Fantasy Spin
Baltimore or Philly? Certainly it would seem that Terrell Owens' fantasy value is better as an Eagle, with a Pro Bowl quarterback in Donovan McNabb just begging for a legitimate target. Owens is not likely to be as prolific as he was in San Francisco, but he will remain near a top 5 fantasy wide receiver. Philadelphia is a running team that plays good defense and doesn't get in to as many shootouts as the Jeff Garcia 49ers did. Owens finished No. 11 among WRs for fantasy in 2003, and he should be able to match those stats in Philly this season. He may not reach 100 receptions or 16 touchdowns ever again, but he's still a good option after the top few receivers are drafted, on par with Chad Johnson.
— Eric Karabell, ESPN Fantasy Games
Stephen Burbank, the arbitrator for disputes between the NFL and its players' union, heard two hours of arguments from lawyers Monday concerning the case, but didn't issue a ruling because a compromise was reached.

The Ravens said they hoped to get Owens.

"Our collective mind-set is to improve this team," coach Brian Billick said. "We'll keep doing this through the draft, free agency and in other ways. It's a disappointment to not get T.O., but I'm confident in our abilities to raise the Ravens to the next level."

Owens gives the Eagles and McNabb the No. 1 receiver the offense has desperately needed. Owens has averaged 93 receptions, 1,316 yards and 13 touchdowns over the past four seasons while feuding with teammates, coaches, the 49ers' front office and the media.

He caught 80 passes for 1,102 yards and nine TDs last season, his lowest totals since 1999. The Eagles' starting receivers, James Thrash and Todd Pinkston, combined for 85 receptions for 1,133 yards and three TDs.

"It's a nice addition to a good football team," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "To put him in the mix, it presents itself to be an explosive package."

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' antics on and off the field have tainted some of his accomplishments, however.

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 once precipitated a melee during a game by dancing on the Dallas Cowboys' star at midfield of Texas Stadium 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.

"A lot of people get it misconstrued as far as my passion on the field and my personality off the field," Owens said.

Asked if he would bring some of those touchdown celebrations to Philadelphia, Owens smiled and looked at the stoic Reid.

"Coach said he liked the pom-poms," Owens said, referring to when he grabbed pom-poms from a cheerleader and did a cheer after a score.

The Eagles tried to work out a trade with the 49ers when Owens wasn't declared a free agent. San Francisco general manager Terry Donahue said Reid first offered a fifth-round draft pick and Thrash. Donahue said Reid rejected counteroffers, so the team traded Owens to Baltimore.

"I like Brandon Whiting," 49ers coach Dennis Erickson told ESPN.com. "We needed a defensive end and we think he will help us."

Owens is the second major addition this month for Philadelphia, which went 12-4 last season and lost the NFC championship game for the third straight year. The Eagles signed three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jevon Kearse to a $66 million, eight-year contract on the first day of the free agency period.

The Eagles have lost five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Troy Vincent (Buffalo), running back Duce Staley (Pittsburgh) and linebacker Carlos Emmons (New York Giants), and stand to lose former Pro Bowl cornerback Bobby Taylor.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.