Although the odds of a deal are slim given the circumstances, the Philadelphia Eagles have granted agent Drew Rosenhaus verbal permission to speak to other franchises about the possibility of acquiring estranged wide receiver Terrell Owens in a trade.
But even the teams seriously interested in taking on the controversial Owens for next season aren't likely to be very interested in a trade, since they know the Eagles will release him in the spring. Rosenhaus did not immediately return messages Monday evening.
One league source, acknowledging that there is virtually no chance for a trade, called the move "a formality," and agreed Owens eventually will be cut and then sign elsewhere as a free agent. Granting permission for a trade might be a last-gasp effort by the Eagles to try to elicit something in return for Owens before being forced to release him in less than two months.
His off-field actions aside, it is believed that Owens, still a premier playmaker, will draw interest from several teams once he is released. Rosenhaus has been able to orchestrate trades under difficult circumstances in the past, but finding a franchise that is inclined to surrender even a low-round draft choice for Owens might be expecting too much.
Philadelphia could, of course, arrange a trade on its own. But given Owens' contract status, and the likelihood any team acquiring him would probably need him to rework his existing deal, his cooperation would be necessary.
Owens, 32, has five seasons remaining on the seven-year, $49 million contract he signed with Philadelphia after the Eagles acquired him in a three-team trade in 2004. In March he is due two roster bonuses totaling $7.5 million -- one a payment of $5 million on March 5 and a second payment of $2.5 million later in the month.
Certainly, with what transpired during this season, Owens cannot return to the Eagles and teams interested in him will use that knowledge to their advantage.
The 10-year veteran, one of the game's premier receivers, was suspended twice last season, once during summer training camp for a week, then at midseason. He appeared in a career-low seven games and caught 47 passes for 763 yards and six touchdowns.
In November, arbitrator Richard Bloch upheld the Eagles' right to suspend Owens four games for conduct detrimental to the team, and to place him on the inactive list every week after that for the balance of the season. The in-season suspension cost Owens $764,705 of his scheduled $3.25 million base salary for 2005.
The Eagles are also trying to recover $1.725 million, a prorated share of the $8.5 million signing bonus Owens received in '04. The NFL Players' Association has filed a grievance on his behalf in that case. It is not known when the grievance will be heard.
Owens, who began his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers as a third-round pick in the 1996 draft, has 716 career receptions for 10,535 yards and 101 touchdowns. He has appeared in 142 games (128 as a starter) and has been chosen for the Pro Bowl five times.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.