NFC East: Owens signs

Taking issue with T.O.'s alleged 'ball skills'

March, 7, 2009
3/07/09
11:30
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

I was reading the AFC East Blog on Saturday evening (the usual routine) when I ran across some analysis from Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. The NFC Beast has been a fan of Williamson's work for years, but we had to take issue with something he said about T.O.

 Owens

"Even though Terrell Owens is slipping, he can still go get it. That guy's a touchdown machine," says Williamson. "He can beat you at all levels, but more than anything is he can go into tight corners. He's physical and his ball skills are great."

It's the last sentence that really caught my attention. It's true that T.O.'s physique suggests that he would be a physical receiver, but I've rarely seen it actually happen on the field. He has trouble getting a clean release off the line of scrimmage -- as Williamson pointed out -- but then he also struggles with competing for balls in traffic. He's devastating if you can get the ball to him on a slant or simply let him utilize his speed on a post route. But he rarely wins on jump balls. And I've always thought ball skills meant that a guy did a great job of adjusting to make a play in traffic. It also suggests to me that a player catches the ball cleanly with his hands.

I don't think T.O. does either of those things well. He's someone who will make a lot of big plays, but Bills fans should prepare themselves for several three-catch, 38-yard afternoons. He accounted for more than 400 of his yards this season in wins over the Eagles and 49ers. In pretty much every other game, he put up pedestrian numbers.

T.O. rarely makes clutch catches to win football games. In some ways, he's the A-Rod of the NFL. At the end of the season, his stats will look pretty solid. But then you realize he didn't help you win any big games. The Cowboys didn't win a playoff game in T.O.'s three years. You can't pin it all on him, but then, alleged superstars are supposed to will you to victories.

Rosenhaus taunts the Cowboys

March, 7, 2009
3/07/09
11:09
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

As we discussed earlier, Terrell Owens' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, took a parting shot at the Cowboys in an interview on ESPN on Saturday night.

"[Owens] thanks the Cowboys organization for releasing him and adding to his bank account," said Rosenhaus.

The receiver was set to make $5.7 million in base salary and a roster bonus in '09 with the Cowboys. He'll make $6.5 million with the Bills. So Rosenhaus is accurate in saying T.O. will come out $800,000 ahead in '09, but as Todd Archer points out on DallasNews.com, the wide receiver was scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2010 and $7 million in 2011 with the Cowboys.

There's a good chance he'll never see another contract like that again. But in the event that T.O. scores 14 touchdowns and has 1,300 yards while leading the Bills to the playoffs, something tells me he'll get one more lucrative contract -- even at age 36.

Owens to Bills -- Anyone see this coming?

March, 7, 2009
3/07/09
7:32
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

You had to know Terrell Owens was going to land somewhere in 2009, but most of us didn't think it would happen this quickly. I was actually pulling for Oakland to sign him because the Raiders play at Dallas this season.

Owens leads in big plays
Terrell Owens' numbers may be on the decline, but he still has a knack for making plays when it counts:
Yards/Catch, 3rd Down (2008, min. 5 rec)
Player YPC
Devery Henderson 25.6
Terrell Owens 25.5
Justin Gage 24.9
Demetrius Williams 23.4
Bernard Berrian 22.6
3rd Down 30+ Yard Rec (2008)
Player 30+ Yard Rec
Terrell Owens 5
Steve Smith 4
Devery Henderson 4
Bernard Berrian 4
Greg Jennings 4
Vincent Jackson 4
30+ Yard TD (2006-08)
Player 30+ Yard TD
Terrell Owens 15
Bernard Berrian 12
Randy Moss 10
Greg Jennings 10
Lee Evans 10
Steve Smith 10
-- Compiled by ESPN Stats and Information

But T.O. will be in a Buffalo Bills uniform in '09. I can't get used to writing that sentence. The fact that he signed with Buffalo tells us what we already figured: There wasn't much of a market for him. AFC East blogger Tim Graham on ESPNEWS called it a "marriage of desperation," which sounds pretty accurate to me.

ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli said on ESPNEWS that Bills owner Ralph Wilson was the impetus for this improbable marriage. Pasquarelli said he talked to a Bills coach who expressed shock over the move. Honestly, it just goes against this organization's nature. But, in this economy, maybe the Bills are feeling more pressure than ever to add some juice.

Here's what T.O.'s agent Drew Rosenhaus said on ESPNEWS:

"[T.O.'s] a good fit from a standpoint of trying to make a statement, trying to make a move. ... They want to add a superstar to the mix and he's a great fit."

Rosenhaus praised Bills quarterback Trent Edwards and Buffalo's receiving corps. He also said that T.O. was "very impressed" with the coaching staff. And in a classic Rosenhaus moment, he took a parting shot at the Dallas Cowboys by pointing out that his client would make $800,000 more than he would have made with his former team.

"[Owens] thanks the Cowboys organization for releasing him and adding to his bank account," said Rosenhaus.

Way to stay classy, Drew. The agent also pointed out that "three or four" other teams were vying for T.O.'s services, and said that's why the Bills made such a competitive offer. As you might expect, Rosenhaus declined to name the "three or four" teams.

T.O.'s back in business with Bills

March, 7, 2009
3/07/09
6:29
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

 
  James Lang/US Presswire
  Terrell Owens agreed to a deal with the Bills on Saturday.

Former Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens may not have nine NFL lives, but he has at least four. According to a report by ESPN.com's John Clayton, T.O. has agreed to a one-year deal worth $6.5 million with the Buffalo Bills.

The $6.5 million is apparently guaranteed, which would appear to be a huge win for T.O., whose prospects looked bleak when he was released by the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday. T.O.'s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, had predicted his client would have a deal in place by the end of next week, and that sounded pretty optimistic considering T.O.'s much-publicized issues in Dallas. Several teams quickly issued press releases saying they wouldn't be interested in the controversial player, but the Bills were there to catch him.

He'll join an offense led by quarterback Trent Edwards, and he'll play opposite receiver Lee Evans, who's been on the decline since an 82-catch season in 2006. After spending his career with three big-market teams, T.O. is in for a huge change in Buffalo. But it's not like he'll be able to avoid the spotlight. He remains the biggest lightning rod in the league, which will make the Bills' 2009 training camp a completely different experience.

FOXsports.com was the first outlet to report T.O.'s visit to Buffalo. He was reportedly scheduled to leave town Saturday night if a deal wasn't in place, but the Bills obviously moved quickly. I'm sure Bills owner Ralph Wilson spent some time on the phone with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who had offered to be T.O.'s No. 1 reference.

The biggest surprise in all of this is the guaranteed contract. T.O.'s combination of age (35) and past issues screams for an incentive-laden contract, but much like Jones did three years ago, the Bills decided to make a serious commitment to the player. Even for a 35-year-old receiver with a spotless past, making $6.5 million per year would be a tremendous feat. And you wonder why players fall all over themselves to sign with Rosenhaus?

T.O.'s proven that he can destroy any locker room -- no matter how tight it might be. The Bills are being naive to think they could be the exception. But in reality, he's being brought in as a mercenary. Buffalo apparently thinks it's one elite player away from making a playoff run. That seems like a stretch to me in the competitive AFC East.

Tim Graham of AFC East blog fame, this guy is all yours!

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