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My Agent Did What? A procedural slip could cost Terrell Owens millions. He's not the only one

For years now, as Terrell Owens has simultaneously shone at wide
receiver and feuded with 49ers management, teams around the NFL
have no doubt been counting the days until he became a free
agent. If only Owens's agent, David Joseph, had anticipated the
moment so eagerly.

Last Thursday, Owens and Joseph learned they had missed the NFL's
Feb. 21 deadline to get out of his contract with the 49ers, which
has three years and $17 million remaining. Instead of being able
to test the market--where he might have gotten a multiyear
contract in the $35 million range like the one receiver
Laveranues Coles got from the Redskins last year--Owen is locked
in through '06. The gaffe left Joseph and his client of eight
years on the defensive. Both said they did not receive
notification from the NFL informing them that the deadline
specified in Owens's contract had been moved up because of a
technicality. Owens wasn't the only player to blow a deadline.
The agent for Browns receiver Dennis Northcutt, Jerome Stanley,
failed to send the team a letter by Feb. 19 that would have
voided Northcutt's contract. Now Northcutt is on the hook with
Cleveland for three more seasons at $700,000 a year. He could
have commanded as much $3 million as a free agent.

If it makes the two pass catchers feel any better, they still
have jobs--unlike former NBA guard Anthony Carter. Last June,
Carter's agent, Bill Duffy, failed to file the paperwork to
exercise Carter's $4.1 million option year with the Heat, thus
making Carter a free agent. Carter then had to settle for a
two-year, $1.5 million deal with San Antonio. After he injured
his left knee in October, the Spurs gave him an injury settlement
and let him go. Duffy has vowed to make up the lost millions to

While Northcutt is trying to work out a deal with the Browns,
Owens and Joseph maintain they acted properly and could file a
grievance through the players' association. If Owens does stay
with San Francisco, he's likely to be traded. "We did what we
were supposed to do," Owens told Sporting News Radio. "The truth
will come out. ... Thinking that I was just sitting on my butt
and David's been sitting on his butt and just forgot and left
paperwork on his desk, that's just utterly ridiculous."

--Sridhar Pappu


COLOR PHOTO: ANDY LYONS/GETTY IMAGES (NORTHCUTT) LET ME GO! Northcutt (above) and Owens are still hoping to begranted free agency.

COLOR PHOTO: MICHAEL ZITO/SPORTSCHROME USA (OWENS) LET ME GO! Northcutt (above) and Owens are still hoping to begranted free agency.