- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 4, 2004

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The San Francisco 49ers traded four-time Pro Bowl receiver Terrell Owens to the Baltimore Ravens yesterday after a paperwork error prevented him from becoming a free agent.

Owens, who quarreled with coaches, teammates and opponents during the last few seasons, was given permission by the 49ers to seek a deal after his agent failed to file a document voiding the final years of his contract. His acquisition gives Baltimore, which surrendered a second-round draft pick, the top receiver it has been lacking for years, even in 2000, when the Ravens won the Super Bowl.

Ravens coach Brian Billick said he was impressed by “comments across the board” about the wide receiver’s productivity and work ethic.

“The profile we got was of a player that, given his level of proven productivity and his desire to win, seemed to fit the Ravens profile,” Billick said at a news conference.

The coach also said he wasn’t worried about the wide receiver’s difficult relationship with the 49ers.

“However he treated people or dealt with people before is not of concern to me because the Baltimore Ravens weren’t a part of that,” Billick said.

Owens was due to become a free agent Wednesday. But he failed to file papers by Feb.21 voiding the last three years of his contract, and the NFL ruled that he still belonged to San Francisco.

Unless Baltimore agrees to renegotiate his contract, the mixup could cost Owens millions.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said the team has been negotiating for an extension on the contract. Owens is due to make $17.7million in base salary over the next three seasons, including $5.3million next year — a relative bargain for one of the NFL’s best receivers.

Owens had been hoping to land a signing bonus of more than $15million from Baltimore, Philadelphia, Atlanta or a handful of other teams with the cap space to sign the star receiver.

Newsome said Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis played a role in urging Owens to come to Baltimore. The two were in the Pro Bowl this year. Newsome also said he had spoken with Owens three or four times in recent days and that the wide receiver was happy about the move.

Owens has spent all eight of his NFL seasons with the 49ers, who drafted him in the third round in 1996.

He and Indianapolis’ Marvin Harrison are the only receivers with more than 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns over the past four seasons. Last season Owens had 80 catches for 1,102 yards and nine TDs, his lowest totals since 1999.

Owens is also known for a series of on-field celebrations and off-field conflicts. Two years ago, he pulled out a pen and signed a ball after scoring a touchdown in Seattle. He wasn’t fined for the move but was severely chastised by commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who said he would be disciplined for future stunts.

He also precipitated a melee during a game by dancing on the Dallas Cowboys’ star at midfield after scoring.

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