Owens, Ravens get quickie divorce

OWINGS MILLS – All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens immediately began mapping out his exit route after being traded to the Baltimore Ravens.<br>

Prior to the formal resolution of a grievance argued before the league's special master that appeared to be turning in Owens' favor, the NFL management council and players' union brokered a settlement Tuesday that granted the disgruntled football player his wish and sent him to the Philadelphia Eagles. The initial trade Baltimore made for Owens was nullified.

Now, the Ravens will retain the second-round draft pick they sent a dozen days ago to the San Francisco 49ers for Owens while gaining the Eagles' fifth-round draft pick in this spring's draft. Philadelphia traded defensive end Brandon Whiting to the 49ers to complete a three-team swap that leaves the AFC North champions still bereft of an elite wide receiver.

"We made an aggressive move to get Terrell Owens on our team," Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome said of the four-time Pro Bowl selection. "In good faith, we made a trade that was approved by the NFL and we thought we had a valid contract with T.O.

"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."

The Ravens' passing game ranked last in the NFL last season while their offense featured the top-ranked rushing game behind Pro Bowl runner Jamal Lewis

Instead of lining up at wide receiver in the Ravens' purple uniform, Owens will be donning the Eagles' green. Owens, 30, will reportedly sign a seven-year contract worth $42 million that includes a $10 million signing bonus.

The Ravens visit the Eagles next fall at an undetermined date.

"I'm happy for him. I wish he was here, but he's not," offensive tackle Orlando Brown said. "He's not a teammate, so I get to hit him. It will probably be motivation for somebody on this team, him saying he didn't want to be here."

Because Owens never played a single down for Baltimore, his departure didn't cause waves in the Ravens' locker room. Upon being traded to Baltimore on March 4, Owens immediately began complaining.

"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. "Obviously, he's a great receiver. I know what we had from last year, though, and I think we'll be fine. The fans obviously will probably be disappointed."

During their aborted association with Owens, the Ravens lost out on receiver Marcus Robinson, who caught six touchdowns for Baltimore last season, along with Darrell Jackson and David Boston. Robinson signed a four-year deal worth $9.4 million with the Minnesota Vikings four days after the Owens' trade.

"He would have helped us a lot because we lost Marcus," Brown said.

Regardless of Owens' histrionics on and off the field, he has consistently produced. Over the last four seasons, he gained more than 5,000 receiving yards and scored 51 touchdowns to exceed Indianapolis Colts star Marvin Harrison's totals.

"Our collective mindset is to improve this team," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "It's a disappointment to not get T.O., but I'm confident in our abilities to raise the Ravens to the next level."

Last season, Owens caught 80 passes for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns. The Ravens averaged 141.3 passing yards last season.

Owens had 592 receptions for 8,572 yards and 81 touchdowns during his eight seasons in San Francisco. However, he often feuded with coaches and teammates and transformed himself into a lightning rod for controversy because of his infamous, orchestrated celebrations after touchdowns.

"We felt T.O. would be a good complement, but we don't hang our heads," Ravens director of pro personnel George Kokinis said. "It's disappointing not to bring in a player of that caliber, but he's an Eagle and it's time to move on."
Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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