The Philadelphia Eagles released the exiled Owens on Tuesday,
ending a tumultuous, two-year relationship with the wide receiver.
Owens was due a $5 million roster bonus on Wednesday, so the
Eagles had to cut him or trade him before then to avoid paying him
The move was a formality because Owens was kicked off the team
in November following a series of incidents and infractions,
including repeated criticism of quarterback Donovan McNabb.
The Eagles announced the cut in a one-sentence statement. Team
officials said they would not comment.
Owens' publicist, Kim Etheredge, and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus,
both declined to speculate about his future.
The Eagles gave Owens and Rosenhaus permission to talk with
other teams in January. The former All-Pro met with the Denver
Broncos. Miami and Dallas reportedly have interest in Owens, and
Kansas City president Carl Peterson has said he'd consider giving
him a one-year, incentive-laden deal. The Cowboys released Keyshawn
Johnson on Tuesday, possibly clearing the way for Owens.
Owens helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl in his first season
in Philadelphia, but his problems started when he demanded a new
contract just one year into a seven-year, $48.97 million deal.
He criticized management, feuded with McNabb, violated team
policies and eventually was banished seven games into last season.
An arbitrator upheld the Eagles' decision to suspend Owens without
pay for four games and deactivate him the final five games.
Owens was set to earn base salaries of $770,000 plus $7.5
million in bonuses in 2006, $5.5 million in 2007, $6.5 million in
2008, $7.5 million in 2009, and $8.5 million in 2010.
It's unlikely he'll get a similar deal from another team.
The Eagles were 17-5 in games Owens played, including playoffs,
and 4-9 without him. They finished 6-10 last year, missing the
playoffs for the first time since 1999.
Owens came to the Eagles after eight often controversial seasons
in San Francisco with a reputation for being a playmaker. However,
his selfish behavior and flamboyant touchdown celebrations often
overshadowed his performance on the field.
He caught 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2004,
and made a valiant return from ankle surgery to play in
Philadelphia's loss to New England in the Super Bowl.
From there, it was downhill.
Owens took his first verbal shot at McNabb last April,
suggesting the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback was tired in the
fourth quarter against the Patriots.
McNabb responded harshly and the two didn't speak for a
prolonged period in training camp. They briefly reconciled their
relationship and performed well together on the field -- Owens had
47 catches for 763 yards and six TDs in seven games last year.
Owens was sent home for one week from training camp last August
after a heated dispute with coach Andy Reid that followed a
shouting match with then-offensive coordinator Brad Childress.
Owens also annoyed the Eagles by breaking the dress code on road
trips, parking in coaches' spots at the team's practice facility
and sleeping through one team meeting, not bringing his playbook to
another and refusing to open the playbook at another meeting.
In early November, the team had enough of Owens' antics after he
again criticized McNabb, called the organization "classless'' and
fought with former teammate Hugh Douglas.
One day after the Eagles told him to go home for good, a
contrite Owens pleaded for another chance in a public apology
outside his home in Moorestown, N.J., but the team was unmoved.
A five-time Pro Bowl receiver, Owens has 716 catches for 10,535
yards and 103 touchdowns, including two rushing scores, in 10
seasons in the NFL.