IRVING, Texas - Terrell Owens has been on his best behavior for quite awhile. The Dallas Cowboys are doing their best to keep it that way.
Both sides agreed Monday to a three-year contract extension worth around $27 million, according to a person close to the negotiations who asked to remain anonymous because it hasn’t been announced.
The key to the deal may not be the length or even the money, which is close to what Randy Moss received.
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.
Word of Owens’ deal came a few hours after the Cowboys got other good news: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is allowing suspended cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones to join the club all the way up to the regular season and will decide by Sept. 1 if Jones can be fully reinstated.
Owens’ last few deals have been nothing but headline-makers. There was the seven-year, $48.97 million contract he got from the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004, followed by all the complaining he did about it in 2005. The Eagles cut him, letting him sign anywhere else, and he wound up getting a three-year, $25 million deal from the Cowboys.
Jerry Jones sure has gotten his money’s worth.
Owens has provided glitz, jersey sales — and lots of catches. He led the NFL with 13 touchdown catches in 2006, then had an NFC-best 15 more last season. His two-year total is tops in the NFL.
His success also coincided with the emergence of Tony Romo, who went from backup to Pro Bowler by following the simple formula of throwing to No. 81 whenever possible.
Owens has insisted for months that he wasn’t worried about his next contract because Jones always takes care of his players. True enough, Jones re-signed offensive lineman Flozell Adams early in the offseason, then recently gave extensions to cornerback Terence Newman and running back Marion Barber. All were quite lucrative, just like this one.
Now that the Cowboys are back to being among the NFC’s top teams, Jones wants to keep it that way. As much as he wants to win a playoff game for the first time since the 1996 season, and a Super Bowl for the first time since 1995, he also has seats and luxury suites to sell. The team is footing the bill for most of a $1.1 billion stadium that will seat 80,000 for most games, with a capacity of up to 100,000.
Owens will turn 38 in December of the final year of the extension, 2011.
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.
The Cowboys have never brought up Owens’ age in anything but a positive light. In fact, since coach Bill Parcells left after the 2006 season, the club and “the player” — as Parcells called him — have gotten along just fine. Even fans have come around to the guy who made himself Public Enemy No. 1 for spiking a ball onto the team’s midfield star logo twice in the same game while he played for the San Francisco 49ers.
Paying him on par with Moss is another way to keep T.O. smiling.
Owens has averaged 83 catches and 1,267.5 yards over his two seasons in Dallas.
A five-time All-Pro, Owens is ninth on the career receptions list with 882, 10th in receiving yards with 13,070 and third in touchdown with 129.
He’s also the active leader in TD receptions, a point of pride for a guy who was the 89th overall pick in 1996, the draft that featured Keyshawn Johnson taken first overall, with Terry Glenn, Eddie Kennison, Marvin Harrison, Eric Moulds, Amani Toomer, Muhsin Muhammad and Bobby Engram among the receivers taken before Owens.
CSN: Chip Kelly says he'll adapt his offense to fit the NFL, but analyst Ron Jaworski isn't sold.
2013 SNF Schedule
Check out the 2013 Sunday Night Football schedule.
Latest from ProFootballTalk
Video: Football from NBC Sports
Urlacher a borderline Hall of Famer?
ProFootballTalk: People in the know claim they don't believe Brian Urlacher is a sure-fire candidate for the Hall of Fame, and Mike Florio agrees.
Check out some of the NFL cheerleaders from across the league.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.