The honeymoon with Terrell Owens in Philadelphia may be over. The all-pro wide receiver is campaigning for a new contract, and seems to be causing serious doubt among fans whether he?ll return to play for the Eagles in the 2005 season.Owens signed a seven-year, $49 million contract in March of 2004 after he helped force a trade that sent him to the Eagles. Owens is only set to make $3.5 million in his second season in Philadelphia. In 2006, Owens will make a base salary of just $770,000, but with roster bonuses of over $7 million.
In an interview with CNBC, an emotional Owens talked about his financial future and his desire to support his family, including his ailing grandmother who is suffering from Alzheimer?s disease. “In this situation, at this point in my career, it?s business first. It?s family first,” said Owens.
Owens recently complained in various reports about having no leverage at the time histract was renegotiated with the Eagles. The NFL brokered a deal with the Eagles, and Owens and his former agent, David Joseph, had little input in coming to terms with a more appropriate deal. “[The NFL] used their leverage to strong-arm us because they knew I wanted to leave Baltimore for Philadelphia, and they capitalized on it. I can?t go for that now.
It?s not in me to do that,” said Owens in an Associated Press report.Last month, Owens fired Joseph, who represented him since his rookie season in 1996. “Terrell is doing this for himself and his family,” said Owens? new agent Drew Rosenhaus, on Fox Sports Net?s “Best Damn Sports Show”
Rosenhaus assured Eagles fans that Owens “loves you guys”, and that it is “just business.” One Eagles fan doesn?t want to hear it. “[Rosenhaus] is a hardball agent who just wants his share of the contract.
Terrell made a huge mistake hiring this guy,” said sophomore Joe Kilgore. “Terrell is really wearing out his welcome real quickly. It?s a shame this had to happen. I know for Eagles fans, it is personal – real personal.” The consequences of Owens seeking a new contract may significantly impact the Eagles this season.
There is a strong possibility that Owens will not report to training camp in July if nothing is settled. Although Owens has said he will be ready for the season, a holdout once September rolls aroundis not unlikely.
It?s no secret that the Eagles do not restructure or renegotiate their players? contracts. In 2003, former Eagles running back Duce Staley held out of training camp and most of the preseason because he was seeking a new deal with the team. Staley never renegotiated with the Eagles, and signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers prior to the 2004 season. Offensive lineman John Welbourn ran himself out of town after criticizing the Eagles? front office for not offering him a more lucrative contract. He was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs on draft day of last year.
Owens? case is that he is not being paid like he should, although his long-term contract figure may suggest otherwise. However, compared to Randy Moss, who will be making $15.5 million this season with the Oakland Raiders, Owens is drastically underpaid. In 2005, Owens will be the 26th highest paid wide receiver in the league. Owens made a large chunk of his contract last season. The $9.2 he made was third in the league at his position, behind only Moss and Marvin Harrison.
To help balance the salary cap, the Eagles structured Owens? contract so that most of the money he?ll receive will come after his third season with the team. Peyton Manning, who, despite being the second highest paid player in the NFL, will only make $660,000 this season in now the third year of a contract he signed in 2003. In regards to Owens, the fact that he?s asking for more money after only one season with the team has one fan searching for answers.
“It?s really unfathomable,” said sophomore Brad McBride. “He?s making millions of dollars as is. Terrell brought so much excitement to this city last year. I just hope he realizes what he is doing to his legacy [in Philadelphia]. He should do what?s best for the team and not himself.”
Owens set a team record in 2004 with 14 touchdowns and caught 77 passes. A severe ankle injury in a game versus the Dallas Cowboys in week 15 shut him down for the season, but Owens defied doctors? orders and played in the Super Bowl, where he caught nine passes for 122 yards in the Eagles? 24-21 loss to the New England Patriots.