This is the eighth in a series of scouting reports on 15 key players who are slated to become free agents — restricted or unrestricted — March 5, unless they are re-signed or franchised before then.
News: One of the more decorated wide receivers of this era, Terrell Owens did not experience the superproductive stay in Buffalo that he or the team had envisioned, and it almost certainly will end after just one season. An unrestricted free agent, T.O. is not expected back with the Bills, who are undergoing numerous changes under new GM Buddy Nix and new head coach Chan Gailey. Although the wideout hauled in 55 passes for 829 yards and five touchdowns, he was a nonfactor for a majority of the season, falling short of 50 yards in 10 contests and scoring just twice (once receiving, once rushing) through the first 10 weeks. He'd prefer to play for a contender, but his door might not get knocked down by offers.
Notes: There are few receivers who have ever played the game who can match Owens in terms of accolades. A third-round pick of the 49ers in 1996, T.O. has made six Pro Bowls during his 14-year career, playing with San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas and Buffalo. He has put together nine 1,000-yard campaigns, and he has reached double-digit TDs on eight occasions, ranking third all-time with 144 receiving scores. It hasn't been all roses for T.O., though. He has brought controversy with him to each of his stops, publicly expressing his dissatisfaction when he doesn't think he's getting the ball often enough. His attitude has divided locker rooms, which could cause many clubs to ignore him on the open market.
Positives: Owens is as strong as wide receivers come, which gives him the ability to run through arm tackles and outfight defenders for the ball. He also has a large frame at 6-3, 224 pounds, so quarterbacks have no trouble finding him. For a big wideout, he has deceptive speed and can still run past coverage. He's very passionate about the game and will consistently compete hard. His career stats are eye-popping, and he hasn't lost a whole lot with age.
Negatives: Drops have plagued T.O., especially in recent years, as he tends to miss easy grabs due to lapses in concentration. He can also be somewhat lax in his route running, leading to defenders beating him to some balls. Above all else, though, his personality is probably his biggest downside. He not only has a selfish demeanor but also rarely accepts blame for his errors, often causing rifts between him and teammates. And at age 36, he's liable to decline sharply at any moment.
Risk factor: High. Owens' volatility makes it unlikely that he'll receive anything more than a one-year contract, as he did in Buffalo. While he could help a contender in need of an impact wideout, he could just as easily be the cause of a team's demise.
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