Sources: Cowboys cut T.O.
The Dallas Cowboys have released controversial wide receiver Terrell Owens, sources told ESPN's Michael Smith late Wednesday.
In late February, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones did not deny the team was discussing the possible release of Owens. Owens' future was brought up again in meetings at Valley Ranch on Wednesday, but Jones had not made a final decision when most people left the building, a source told ESPN.com's Matt Mosley.
"There are several decisions on our roster we have to look at," Jones said in February. "This is the time of year we do that. I'm not trying to be trite, but as you all know we're evaluating players in college, we're evaluating free agents and we're evaluating our own roster. This is an ongoing thing, not any different than this time last year."
The team did not immediately have a comment. A spokesman for Owens said he hadn't heard the news, and that the receiver was traveling and could not immediately be reached, the Associated Press reported.
The Cowboys paid Owens a $12 million signing bonus just last year, included as part of a new four-year, $34 million deal. Dallas will take a roughly $9 million salary cap hit with the release of Owens.
There has been talk since the end of the Cowboys' 9-7 season, in which they missed the playoffs, that they would consider cutting Owens to improve locker room morale.
Not only did Owens have relationship issues with quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten, but the receiver consistently criticized offensive coordinator Jason Garrett's play calling and his offensive schemes to the point that sources have said Garrett did not believe they could coexist.
While the Cowboys were trying to downplay a possible rift between Owens and Witten during the season, the two reportedly came close to blows in mid-December.
An incident occurred at the Cowboys' training facility when Witten tried to engage Owens in a conversation about a pass route. Owens told Witten to stay away from him and called him a name. The two exchanged words before being separated.
The confrontation came a day after a source told ESPN that Owens believed Romo and Witten -- close friends and road roommates -- hold private meetings and create plays without including Owens.
While Romo also will be without the recipient of most his touchdown passes, he also will no longer have to make sure T.O. has enough passes his way to make him happy. Whether that was perception or reality will no longer matter either.
The Cowboys went 31-17 in Owens' three seasons, but 0-2 in the playoffs.
Jones essentially forced Owens on then-coach Bill Parcells, a relationship underscored by Parcells referring to Owens as "the player." Owens drew attention to himself during training camp by dressing up as a pro cyclist while riding a stationary bike, then had an accidental overdose early that season.
"You've gotta realize than Bill bought into Terrell joining our team and don't think Terrell didn't come to this team without Bill's blessing," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said last week. "He wanted to win and use the talents of Terrell as much as anyone in this organization ... the entire time Bill was coach they never spoke."
Yet when Parcells turned to unproven Romo midway through that season, Owens sparkled. They kept it up the next season, leading the Cowboys to all sorts of club records on their way to a 13-3 season and a division title. The Cowboys lost their first playoff game, days after Romo and others went on a trip to Mexico, and Owens tearfully defended Romo, saying, "That's my quarterback."
Where might he end up next?
He's not likely to return to San Francisco or Philadelphia, the other places he wore out his welcome. Then again, it seemed unlikely he would come to Dallas after having offended Cowboys fans by celebrating on the team's star logo while playing for the 49ers.
Don't expect him in Miami, not as long as Parcells is in charge. And perhaps also count out Kansas City because new coach Todd Haley and Owens hardly got along when Haley was Dallas' offensive coordinator.
The Cowboys should still have a potent passing game, at least if receiver Roy Williams can live up to his big contract and the two draft picks Dallas gave up to get him from Detroit. Romo also still has his favorite target in Witten.
Cowboys WR Terrell Owens hauls in a tremendous 33-yard grab from Tony Romo.
Over three years with the Cowboys, Owens caught 235 passes for 3,587 yards and 38 touchdowns in 47 games. He led the NFL with 13 TDs receiving in 2006, his first season in Dallas.
Over his 13-year career, he's a five-time All-Pro and ranks second in career touchdowns, fifth in career yards receiving and sixth in career receptions. He turned 35 in December, but remains a physical specimen.