The Short Goodbye Eagles have little to say as they release Owens Birds have little to say as they set Owens free

Posted: March 15, 2006

One sentence consisting of 14 words was all it took for the Eagles to finally say goodbye to Terrell Owens yesterday.

"The Philadelphia Eagles today announced they have terminated the contract of WR Terrell Owens," the team said in a statement released by the media relations department.

Unable to trade T.O., the Eagles released him before they had to pay him a $5 million roster bonus that would have been due him today. Owens is now an unrestricted free agent, and it will be fascinating to see what kind of deal agent Drew Rosenhaus can get for him.

Owens, 32, was scheduled to make nearly $8.3 million with the Eagles in 2006. He also was docked more than $800,000 in pay when the Eagles suspended him for four games last season and is still involved in a grievance with the team, which contends he must forfeit $1,725,000 of his original $2.3 million signing bonus.

The release came two days shy of the two-year anniversary of the triumphant news conference the Eagles held at the NovaCare Complex, after 12 days of chaos and confusion ended with the star wide receiver landing with the Eagles via a three-team trade that included the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens.

That happy moment was followed by one magical season in which he helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl while establishing a franchise record with 14 receiving touchdowns. Back then, he was Donovan McNabb's favorite target and all the receiver's venom was focused on opposing players like Jeff Garcia, his former quarterback in San Francisco - who could soon become a member of the Eagles.

Good times turned rotten, however, when Owens decided the seven-year contract worth $48.97 million he signed before the 2004 season did not properly compensate his talent. In an effort to get a new deal from the Eagles, Owens fired longtime agent David Joseph and hired Rosenhaus, which meant the most controversial player and agent in the NFL were now a team.

That was the beginning of the end, but there's no reason now to look back at all the well-documented incidents that led to T.O.'s bitter divorce and exile from the Eagles, which included a series of nasty remarks aimed at McNabb.

Now, it's time for Owens and Rosenhaus to look ahead, and, based on recent remarks he has made on his Web site, the wide receiver seems more ready than ever to move on. Asked on his personal Web site where he was headed next, Owens said: "DOESN'T MATTER, JUST GETTIN TIRED OF JEALOUS TEAMMATES!!! BUT I'M BETTER PREPARED IF THT HAPPENS . . . WILL B READY 2 BALL OUT THIS YR!!"

Rosenhaus, like the Eagles, wasn't talking yesterday.

"He's unavailable to the media today," the person who answered the agent's phone said.

Next question: Where does Owens play next?

Kansas City, Denver, Miami and Tampa Bay have expressed some level of interest over the last few months, and Dallas opened the door to plenty of speculation yesterday when it released veteran receiver Keyshawn Johnson to avoid paying him a $1 million bonus.

The Cowboys apparently weren't in any hurry to sign Owens because coach Bill Parcells was down in Jupiter, Fla., watching Scott Rolen and the St. Louis Cardinals in spring training.

Next question: How are the Eagles going to replace Owens?

For all the headaches he caused, he was an enormous talent, contributing 20 touchdowns in 21 regular-season games. Despite the fact that he didn't play the final nine games last season, he still led the team with six touchdown catches.

The Eagles wanted to upgrade the receiving corps with a big possession receiver, but the Cleveland Browns outbid them for Seattle's Joe Jurevicius and their attempt to bring back Brian Finneran failed when the Villanova product re-signed with Atlanta on Monday.

Johnson, who has a controversial reputation of his own, is coming off a strong season for the Cowboys in which he had 71 catches for 839 yards and six touchdowns. The initial guess is that the Eagles won't want to bring in another potential problem, especially one who is 34 years old.

It's possible that Green Bay's Javon Walker and Buffalo's Eric Moulds could become available in a trade because they are in contract disputes with their current teams.

If the Eagles keep the status quo at the receiver position, they'd go into the season with Reggie Brown as the No. 1 target and either Todd Pinkston or Greg Lewis as the No. 2 guy. The other veteran receiver on the roster is Billy McMullen.

Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.

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