Owens goes from Ravens to Eagles

Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2004

In the end, Terrell Owens got his wish. He'll play next season for the Philadelphia Eagles.

In a deal made Tuesday just before an arbitrator was to rule on Owens' claims to be a free agent, the Eagles ensured they would get the moody wide receiver by sending defensive end Brandon Whiting to San Francisco and a fifth-round pick to Baltimore.

Owens then agreed to a seven-year deal with Philadelphia.

''I'm so excited to be here and to play with D-Mac,'' said Owens, who has played with Donovan McNabb in the Pro Bowl three times. ''I feel like I fit in real nice here.

''I'm comfortable with the West Coast offense. The touchdowns I've had in the Pro Bowl, Donovan has thrown them to me. That just comes with two athletes going out there and making plays, just chemistry in the making.''

Thus ended a two-week saga that began when the NFL ruled Owens was not a free agent because his agent, David Joseph, failed to file by Feb. 21 to void the final years of his contract with the 49ers. San Francisco then traded Owens to the Ravens for a second-round pick.

But Owens, who agreed to a $10 million signing bonus with Philadelphia thinking he would be traded there, refused to report to Baltimore. And the NFL players union filed a grievance on his behalf seeking arbitration.

The case was heard Monday by Stephen Burbank, the designated arbitrator. But before he could rule, the deal was made, brokered by Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, and Harold Henderson, head of the league's Management Council.

''People ask 'why the trade?''' Upshaw said. ''If the arbitrator ruled he was a free agent, he could have gone anywhere. This was the Eagles assuring that he came to them.''

The Eagles lost a player Tuesday when five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Troy Vincent, officially signed with Buffalo. Vincent had agreed to terms with the Bills on Monday night. He will replace Antoine Winfield, who signed with Minnesota.

''We addressed a need by filling a void left by a very good player,'' said coach Mike Mularkey of the Bills, who also released backup quarterback Alex Van Pelt. ''It was the biggest void we needed to take care of before we moved on.''

San Francisco originally wanted Whiting when it was talking trade with Philadelphia for Owens. The 49ers got their man Tuesday.

''It's exciting when you're on a team that's young and has a lot of possibilities,'' Whiting said. ''I know they've lost some players, but I know there's 60 other guys there that want to win some football games. ... It's a little strange how it all happened, but I hope the 49ers are happy with what they got.''

In other moves Tuesday:

Quarterback Drew Henson signed an eight-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys, the latest step in his transition from baseball to the football. Henson's agent, Tom Condon of IMG Football, said the contract will be submitted Wednesday to the NFL Management Council for its approval.

San Diego obtained cornerback Jamar Fletcher, a former first-round draft pick, from Miami as the player to be named in Monday's trade that sent wide receiver David Boston to the Dolphins. San Diego also re-signed running back-return man Leon Johnson.

New Orleans signed fullback Sam Gash, a 12-year veteran who played for Buffalo last season. Veteran cornerback Dale Carter was among three players cut.

Jacksonville signed kicker Jeff Chandler, released last year by San Francisco. The Jaguars also re-signed defensive tackle Matt Leonard.

Miami signed offensive tackle Damien McIntosh, a former Charger, and return man Terrence Wilkins, who played for Indianapolis last season.

New England re-signed fullback Patrick Pass and safety Je'Rod Cherry, a star on special teams.

Denver interviewed Kordell Stewart as a potential backup quarterback and also spoke with perennial Pro Bowl safety John Lynch. Tampa Bay released Lynch on Tuesday.

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