Sports Outside the Beltway

Cowboys Sign T.O. to 3 Year Extension

Terrell Owens is about to turn 35 but that didn’t stop the Dallas Cowboys from extending his contract another three years.

Since his signing with the Dallas Cowboys, the team has taken every opportunity to avoid potential headaches with receiver Terrell Owens. Despite Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ preference for risk, he saw no gamble in giving Owens the extension he sought, but did not openly lobby for.

Any chance the Cowboys were going to cut Owens loose at the end of this season is now all but gone. Owens, who will turn 35 in December, could now potentially end his career a Cowboy.

Owens, whose original contract runs through the 2008 season, agreed to a three-year extension worth $27 million. Combining the 2008 season with the extension, the deal is four years, $34 million. Owens, now under contract through 2011, is among the league’s highest paid receivers with New England’s Randy Moss and Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald.

The extension includes a signing bonus of just under $12.9 million. His base salary this season will be $830,000, $100,000 of which is guaranteed. By signing the deal now it gives the Cowboys a little more room under the 2008 salary cap.

I’m leery of giving players that old so much money. The Terry Glenn situation, where a guy who was still at the top of the game one year and never recovered from an injury the next, should serve as a bright beacon for the Cowboys. Perhaps Jones is looking forward to the “uncapped season” to bail him out should T.O. go south; otherwise, this is an awfully big risk.

Then again, as ESPN’s Michael Smith points out, “The key to the deal may not be the length or even the money. The best part: Owens will not be playing out the final year of his contract, eliminating a potentially explosive topic from a team that needs its attention on ending an 11-season drought without a playoff win.”

Smith adds, “He’s 34 now and in as good shape as anyone a decade younger. A fitness devotee, he’s unlikely to let himself go now. His former teammate and mentor Jerry Rice played well into his 40s.” True enough. Then again, almost nobody manages that. Even a supremely fit athlete like Owens can break down playing such a brutal sport.

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