After agreeing Tuesday to a settlement rescinding the March 4 trade that brought the four-time Pro Bowl receiver to Baltimore, the Ravens promptly put their brief association with Owens behind them.
"We never had him in the locker room, so we never conversed
with him and we don't know what we had," punter Dave Zastudil
said. "I know what we had from last year, though, and I think
we'll be fine."
The Ravens thought they had significantly improved a glaring
weakness from 2003 by obtaining Owens from the San Francisco 49ers
for a second-round draft pick. Although the NFL initially approved
the trade, Owens, contending that he should be a free agent, worked
out a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Owens never took a physical in Baltimore, and the Ravens never got the chance to hold a news conference where he could don a purple hat and hold up a Baltimore jersey with his name on the back.
The uncertainty surrounding the trade made it easier for the
Ravens to adjust to the news that second-year quarterback Kyle Boller would not be throwing passes to Owens after all.
"I'm happy for him. I wish he was here, but he's not," right
tackle Orlando Brown said. "He's not a teammate, so I get to hit
Although Brown and Owens both play offense, the Ravens' defense
should get a shot at the wide receiver in 2004 because Baltimore is
scheduled to play in Philadelphia.
"It will probably be motivation for somebody on this team, him
saying he didn't want to be here," Brown said.
The settlement, reached before an arbitrator could rule on
Owens' case to be a free agent, deemed that the Ravens get back
their second-round pick and receive the Eagles' fifth-round
"We'll use both to improve the 2004 Ravens," general manager
Ozzie Newsome said. "As I said a few weeks ago at the start of
free agency, my head is not in the sand regarding our receiver
position. We want to get better there, and we'll keep trying to do
so between now and the start of the season."
No matter who the Ravens get, he won't have the credentials of
Owens. Although his antics on and off the field infuriated the
49ers coaching staff and many of his teammates, Owens averaged 93
catches, 1,316 yards and 13 touchdowns over the past four seasons.
"Obviously, he's a great receiver. He would help any team,"
Especially the Ravens, whose leading receiver in 2003 was tight
end Todd Heap with 57 receptions. Wide receiver Travis Taylor
ranked second with 39 catches, ahead of Marcus Robinson, who signed
as a free agent with the Minnesota Vikings four days after
Baltimore made the trade for Owens.
Owens was supposed to provide balance for an attack that relied
heavily on running back Jamal Lewis, whose 2,066 yards rushing was
the second-best single-season total in NFL history.
Lewis faces federal drug conspiracy charges in Atlanta, which
could affect his status for the 2004 season.