Dallas points to Carter's failure to perform

The Dallas Cowboys on Monday sent a letter to Quincy Carter and his representatives, asking that he return approximately $600,000 of his original signing bonus, ESPN's Chris Mortensen has learned.

The team is citing specific language in Carter's contract stipulating a failure to perform.

But NFL Players Association sources claim the stipulation only applied to the first three seasons of Carter's contract. Sources added that the failure to perform penalty in the fourth year of the deal only applies to regular-season games. The NFLPA will state that since the Cowboys cut Carter before the season started, Dallas has no claim to the money.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Carter was sent a letter about his contract, but wouldn't say if
the team was seeking to recover part of the bonus the quarterback
received as Dallas' first pick in 2001.

"The day we released Quincy, we wrote him a letter regarding
his contract," Jones said Monday night. "I can't go into any
detail about what was in the letter, what aspects of the contract
it gets.

"There is a letter and it did address things, points in the
contract," Jones said, "And that's about all I can say."

Carter has not yet decided to file a grievance against the team, Mortensen reports.

Also, the NFLPA still is expected to file a grievance on behalf of Carter amid reports he failed a drug test.

The terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the Players Association prevent a team from releasing a player for a failed test.

Beyond the contentions that the Cowboys might have violated terms of the CBA by releasing Carter because of the failed drug screening, some people close to the quarterback continue to insist it was an illegal test.

Jones said Monday that he hadn't been contacted by league
officials or the NFLPA concerning Carter's
contract. He has repeatedly said he is willing to share with them
any information about the contract or the surprise release.

Pressed as to whether Carter had ever signed an agreement that permitted the Cowboys to conduct private testing, which is not allowed, one source told ESPN.com: "It's not like he signed anything but, once he found out they were doing it anyway, he basically figured that it was OK. Of course, he was wrong about that."

Some former Cowboys players have also said they suspected the team was conducting private testing on urine or blood samples. But there has been nothing to substantiate those claims and owner Jerry Jones reiterated several times this week that the Cowboys were in compliance with the NFL testing program and did nothing to violate its guidelines.

With Carter's having cleared waivers, the team that might add him now knows that he has failed two drug tests and that the next misstep would result in a four-game suspension (ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli has confirmed that Carter spent time at a drug rehabilitation facility within the past 18 months). League sources said Minnesota Vikings officials have discussed internally the possibility of signing Carter, but have cooled a bit on the idea.

The Dallas Morning News reported that about 10 teams, including Arizona and Detroit, have inquired about signing Carter.

"The last few days have been full of mixed emotions because I want to play and be in someone's camp so bad," Carter told the Morning News. "But I have to just sit here, see who's interested in me and play the waiting game."

League sources told ESPN.com that despite the positive test, Carter is not under suspension by the league.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli and The Associated Press was used in this report.