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News » Sources: Owens making free-agent visit to Bills 2009-03-07

Sources: Owens making free-agent visit to Bills 2009-03-07

Sources: Owens making free-agent visit to Bills 2009-03-07
Terrell Owens has shuffled off to Buffalo for a free-agent visit.

Multiple sources told FOXSports.com that the controversial wide receiver is meeting today with Bills officials at team headquarters. Another source told FOXSports.com that Owens believes Buffalo will be offering a one-year contract.

Owens, who is expected to leave tonight, has called friends with ties to the team to ask questions about the franchise and Buffalo community, a source said.

Buffalo's media relations staff didn't reply to an inquiry made Friday about the team's interest in Owens, who became a free agent Thursday following his release by Dallas.

In an email sent to FOXSports.com on Friday morning, agent Drew Rosenhaus said there are "several teams" interested in Owens and he expects "to have a deal in place by the end of next week if not sooner." Rosenhaus declined to name the interested parties.

While his prior stints in Dallas, Philadelphia and San Francisco all ended badly, Owens would be a major upgrade for a Bills team seeking more offensive firepower. Buffalo already was rebuffed earlier this offseason in attempts to sign wide receiver Laveranues Coles (Cincinnati) and running backs Fred Taylor (New England) and Kevin Jones (Chicago).

There also is the possibility running back Marshawn Lynch — Buffalo's top rusher and third-leading receiver in 2008 — will be suspended by the NFL for the start of this season following his recent guilty plea to a misdemeanor weapons charge.

Owens finished last season with more catches (69), receiving yards (1,052) and touchdowns (10) than any player on the Bills roster. In Buffalo, Owens could draw double-teams away from Lee Evans, who in the past two seasons hasn't come close to matching his 82-catch campaign from 2006.

The Bills also can't be certain about the availability of wideout James Hardy. A 2008 second-round pick, Hardy suffered torn knee ligaments last December against the New York Jets.

But while the Owens signing makes sense on many levels, history has shown there are major risks involved whenever Owens is added to a roster.

It's believed most if not all of the other teams in the market for a veteran wide receiver are shying from Owens because of his reputation as a selfish player and derisive locker room presence. Owens previously squabbled with veteran quarterbacks like Jeff Garcia and Donovan McNabb, so it's questionable how well he would handle any growing pains being experienced in 2009 by Bills neophyte starter Trent Edwards.

Another cloud of doubt enshrouding Owens: Is he is still an elite wide receiver or a player quickly on the decline like 30-something peers Marvin Harrison, Amani Toomer and Joey Galloway were in 2008? While he is coming off his eight 1,000-yard receiving campaigns in the past nine years, Owens turns 36 in December and did drop 33 passes in 2008.

Owens is among the most productive wide receivers in NFL history. He has 951 catches for 14,122 yards and 39 touchdowns in a 13-year NFL career.

The Cowboys cut him Thursday after three seasons. While his on-field performances were quite good, his behavior off the field — and sometimes on the sideline and in the huddle — made Owens too much of a distraction for team owner Jerry Jones.

"In the aftermath of the season, we talked about change," Jones said in a statement. "Some of what is changing involves the process and some of it involves people. This is a decision that was made based upon consideration for an entire team.

"We will move on now with a new team — a new attitude — and into a new stadium. The evaluation process and the prospect for change will continue at every level of the organization."

"I enjoyed having the opportunity to coach Terrell Owens, and I appreciate his contributions to our team over the past two years," added coach Wade Phillips, who wasn't around during T.O.'s first season in Dallas, in a press release.

Owens released a statement on his Web site thanking Jones, Phillips and the organization for "the opportunity to be a member of the team for the past three years."

"A big thanks to the fans — you've been awesome! I look forward to the upcoming season and continuing to play in the NFL," Owens added.

Owens caught more touchdown passes than any NFL receiver over the last three years and was a big part of Tony Romo's emergence from an unknown backup to a starlet-dating Pro Bowl quarterback with a $67 million contract.

Yet the Cowboys went 0-for-2 in the playoffs with Owens, and didn't even make it this past season. Dallas' late-season collapse — capped by a lackluster effort in a win-and-you're-in finale in Philadelphia — emphasized that a new approach was needed.

Jones was slow to go along. Just a few weeks ago, he indicated Owens wasn't going anywhere and firmly said the idea of locker-room problems were "a figment of the result. You didn't hear about those things when we were winning."

Dallas also released safety Roy Williams on Thursday.

Cutting Owens and Williams will cost the Cowboys about $14 million against the salary cap. There's no telling how much more Dallas will lose in jersey sales and other publicity Owens generated. Then again, the $1.1 billion stadium that's opening next season should generate plenty of interest and souvenir sales.

Owens learned he was being cut Wednesday night and sent text messages to his friends. Cowboys receiver Sam Hurd said Owens' reaction was "more shock than anger."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 7, 2009

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