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Terrell Owens - Free Agent, Baltimore Raven or Future Philadelphia Eagle

Where will this premier wide receiver end up playing in 2004.


It's hard to imagine how the Terrell Owens situation could get any more bizarre. A few weeks ago Owens was preparing to enter the free agency market having publicly stated his desire to play in Philadelphia. We then learn that either Owens or his agent, David Joseph, have missed the deadline for notifying the league of his desire to void the final three years of his existing contract with the San Francisco 49ers and become a free agent. That deadline date had changed as part of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the players' union.

When Owens' free agency status never materialized, the 49ers advised him to seek out a trade. Once again, the buzz was that the Eagles were interested in signing him. Then, the news breaks that the 49ers have traded Owens to the Baltimore Ravens for a second round pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

We later learn that at the time of the trade announcement the Eagles had just worked out terms of a new contract with Owens and were attempting to finalize a trade with the 49ers. When the Eagles learned of the trade they called Owens' agent to find out what happened. Joseph had not yet been advised that his client had been traded to the 49ers.

Apparently, we learn, the 49ers were dissatisfied with the Eagles' offers of a fifth round draft choice plus a player, reported to be Eagles receiver James Thrash. When the Baltimore Ravens offered a second round pick the 49ers made the trade. Whether this was an example of the Eagles not moving fast enough to make a reasonable offer for Owens, we'll never know. It seems that the 49ers had no desire to trade Owens within the NFC, preferring to move him instead to an AFC team.

By last Friday morning, the lines on SportsRadio 610 WIP were all filled with angry Eagles fans. Some were angry with the 49ers for what seemed to be questionable tactics. Some were angry with Owen's agent for screwing the whole thing up in the first place, thus depriving Owens of his free agency. Some were angry with the Eagles for not offering what the player was really worth. No one in Philadelphia was happy.

It turns out the story is anything but over. Terrell Owens has made no secret of his dissatisfaction. In several media opportunities he has made it clear that he not only does his still want to play in Philadelphia, but that he also has no intention of playing for Baltimore. He has, as of Monday morning, still refused to report for his Baltimore physical. He has instructed his agent not to negotiate a new contract with Baltimore.

The NFL Players Association has now gotten involved in the Terrell Owens saga. Gene Upshaw, the executive director of players' union has informed Harold Henderson, the league's executive vice president for labor relations, that he intends to have the Owens' trade to Baltimore voided and have Owens declared a free agent. If an agreement cannot be reached between all involved parties, Upshaw intends to demand a hearing before Stephen Burbank, who is in charge of settling disputes regarding the NFL's collective bargaining agreement. He will seek to have Owens' contract voided so he can be declared a free agent.

It's unclear what part of this fiasco will be the target of Upshaw's argument. There seems to be come question whether either Owens or his agent were ever advised of the new date for filing for free agency. There seems to be some problem, if only an ethical one, of a team telling a player to work out trade with another team and then, meanwhile, trading the player themselves to a team for which the player has no desire to play.

Meanwhile, the Eagles' free agency shopping has come to a pause, if not a dead stop. Without knowing if Owens will eventually become their property, it become difficult for the Eagles to sign other free agents to fill their many holes. Every day, good players drop off the list and sign with other teams.

Where will this all end? We have no idea, but we'll update this as new developments occur, so check back.

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