The uneasy truce between wide receiver Terrell Owens and the Philadelphia Eagles collapsed today.
Owens reportedly packed his belongings and left the Eagles' camp at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., after clashing with Coach Andy Reid.
An Eagles spokesman declined to comment and agent Drew Rosenhaus, who represents Owens, did not immediately return a telephone message. But according to television reports, Owens was asked to leave after a sharp exchange with Reid at a team meeting.
Owens reported to training camp on time last week after threatening to hold out when the Eagles refused to renegotiate his seven-year, nearly $49 million contract after one season. Rosenhaus earlier had said that Owens might leave camp even if he reported, and Owens had indicated he would be unhappy even if he showed up. But when Owens reported, Rosenhaus said that Owens had no intention of leaving and would act professionally even while continuing to pursue a new contract.
Rosenhaus and Owens repeated those sentiments during a meeting with Reid and Eagles President Joe Banner last week, and Banner said publicly that he expected Owens to remain in camp. But Owens refused to speak to media members and declined to participate in an autograph session for fans with the club's other wide receivers. He rarely interacted with quarterback Donovan McNabb or his other teammates on the practice field.
He missed practices five of the last six days, including today, because of a strained groin muscle. Reid had defended Owens, saying that Owens's injury was legitimate and his contract dispute was not a contributing factor to his absence from the practice field. Owens worked out on a separate field with a trainer during today's practice, running and catching passes.
Browns, Edwards Agree
The Cleveland Browns completed a contract agreement with wide receiver Braylon Edwards, the third overall selection in the NFL draft in April.
The deal is for five seasons and includes about $18.5 million in bonus money. Browns officials and Edwards's agent, Lamont Smith, applied the finishing touches to the agreement today after making great progress Tuesday in negotiations.
It has been more than two weeks since the top overall choice in the draft, quarterback Alex Smith, agreed to a contract with the San Francisco 49ers. That should have set the stage for deals to fall into place quickly for the other top picks. But as of this afternoon, the Nos. 2 and 4 selections -- tailbacks Ronnie Brown of the Miami Dolphins and Cedric Benson of the Chicago Bears -- remained unsigned.
Smith's contract was the richest in league history for a rookie, a six-year, $49.5 million deal that included $24 million in bonus money. That bonus-money total was a 20 percent increase over the $20 million in bonuses that last year's top overall draft selection, quarterback Eli Manning, got as part of his six-year, $45 million contract with the New York Giants, and that jump might explain why the Brown, Edwards and Benson negotiations have been troublesome.
Before the Smith signing, the Dolphins apparently had hoped to sign Brown to a contract that included about $18 million to $19 million in bonuses. Once Smith signed, Brown's asking price apparently became approximately $22 million in bonus money. The Dolphins still don't seem to want to budge much from $19.5 million, and the club and agent Todd France also appear far apart in their negotiations on a package of incentives and escalators.
The Dolphins need Brown to be ready for the outset of the regular season, with Ricky Williams facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. The advantage the Dolphins and Bears have, though, is that rookie running backs usually can step in and play well even after lengthy contract disputes.
Three other first-rounders remained unsigned as of this afternoon -- Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam (Pac-Man) Jones (No. 6 overall), Cincinnati Bengals linebacker David Pollack (No. 17) and St. Louis Rams offensive tackle Alex Barron (No. 19). Cornerback Antrel Rolle, the eighth overall selection, came off that list Tuesday by agreeing to a six-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals that includes about $13.6 million in bonuses.
Niners' QB Decision Coming
If Smith gets the starting nod for the 49ers' preseason opener Saturday against the Oakland Raiders, it could be a difficult assignment. The club could be without four injured starters along its offensive line. Coach Mike Nolan is to announce today whether Smith, who's vying with Tim Rattay for the team's starting-quarterback job, will start Saturday. . . .
Bengals wide receiver Peter Warrick is awaiting medical clearance to begin practicing after suffering a stress fracture last season in his lower left leg. He was examined by a doctor Tuesday night and could be on the practice field today. Warrick is entering the final season of his contract and his status with the Bengals is unclear, given their depth at wideout with Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Kelley Washington. . . .
Houston signed linebacker Kailee Wong to a five-year, $17.655 million contract extension. The Texans have been busy locking up their key players, having just signed tailback Domanick Davis to a four-year, $20.77 million extension. . . .
Green Bay linebacker Na'il Diggs is to be sidelined at least two weeks because of a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee. . . .
New Orleans Saints reserve offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb suffered a torn patellar tendon in his right knee during Tuesday's practice and likely will miss the entire season. . . . New Orleans signed free-agent linebacker T.J. Slaughter, a former starter in Jacksonville who was a backup with the Baltimore Ravens last season. . . .
Rookie tailback Maurice Clarett is having an injury-filled training camp with the Denver Broncos. He missed practices Monday and Tuesday and underwent an MRI exam on a sore groin muscle, and there is growing wariness that the injury could be serious. . . .
The New York Jets plan to withhold quarterback Chad Pennington and just-signed cornerback Ty Law from Friday night's preseason opener against the Detroit Lions at Giants Stadium. Pennington is working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery and Law is coming back from a foot injury that caused him to miss the second half of last season while he was with the New England Patriots.
Jay Fiedler is scheduled to start at quarterback in place of Pennington. Coach Herman Edwards said during his news briefing that he'd decided long ago not to play Pennington in the opening preseason game for fear of pushing him too hard. . . .
The Rams released cornerback Dwight Anderson after he missed a curfew last weekend. Anderson had been practicing with the team's starting defense because of injuries and was competing for the club's No. 3 cornerback role. . . .
The Cardinals claimed rookie tight end Andy Stokes, the final player drafted in April who was released this week by the Patriots, off waivers. Quarterback Tim Chang and running back Larry Croom were among four players released by Arizona. . . .
The Jets today released cornerback Pete Hunter and traded safety Jon McGraw to Detroit for a conditional draft pick.The Cleveland Browns are close to completing a contract agreement with wide receiver Braylon Edwards, the third overall selection in the NFL draft in April, and hope to apply the finishing touches to the deal in time to have him on the training-camp practice field this afternoon.