A Bigger Fish To Fry

Cowboys also will have to decide if they think he still can play at some point. 

If he can't or they don't, then retirement or release would be next, which would cost the Cowboys $1 million against the cap this year and $3 million next year for prorating last year's $5 million roster bonus. If that happens or whenever Glenn decides to call it a career, then microfracture knee surgery will be in his best interest for a continued quality of life. Doctors already have told him that. And he wouldn't dare have the surgery now unless he has no desire to continue playing. He would miss the 2008 season, which would mean he would not have played a full game of football since the end of the 2006 season and would be attempting to make a comeback in 2009 at age 35 against long odds. 

Wow, think about that, or maybe don't. No Owens. No Glenn. Inconceivable, bringing us back to the question being asked in the first place. The top three receivers the Cowboys would have rights to then would be Patrick Crayton, Sam Hurd and Miles Austin. Now they have great hope for Isaiah Stanback, but would you want to bet the season on a guy who has yet to play his first full game at wide receiver? 

Now I know what you're thinking. Well, just draft a receiver with one of those two first-round picks, which the Cowboys might end up doing even with Owens. But drafter beware. Of the six receivers selected in the first round of the 2007 draft, Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe was the only one with more than 50 catches (70 for 955 yards). Three of the guys (Ted Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, Craig Davis) didn't have more than Gonzalez' 37 catches and Robert Meachem was inactive for all 17 of the Saints' games even after claiming he had recovered from a late-summer knee scope. 

Now second overall pick Calvin Johnson did have 48 catches for 756 yards, but check this out: It took all six of those guys' touchdowns to match Owens' 15-touchdown output. 

Then there is Plan B and C. Trade for a guy or sign a veteran free agent. Now look, no matter what you've heard or read on some lame blog, the Bengals recently said they have no interest in trading Chad Johnson, the Cardinals are working on restructuring Fitzgerald's contract and the Lions have not expressed any interest in trading Roy Williams, though if they'd take a first I'd do it in a heartbeat. 

That leaves free agency. But if these early lists are accurate, really the only intriguing guy out there who could be a lead receiver is Chicago's Bernard Berrian, and it's being reported in Chicago the Bears likely would franchise him. 

Now what? 

Make Owens happy. 

Now there is precedent for life being miserable if Owens isn't happy with his contract. Remember when he wanted out of San Francisco. Remember when he didn't want to be traded to Baltimore. Remember when he feared playing on what basically amounted to a one-year deal with Philly in 2005 since he knew the Eagles weren't going to fund that near $13 million roster bonus. 

So what makes you think Owens will be happy, at age 34, playing in 2008 on a one-year deal? He realizes he's reaching that borrowed time stage of his career. He's also a savvy enough businessman to know the risk of injury spoiling the final season under contract can damage free-agency marketability. 

How much longer can he play? You'd have to think three years, but likely would have to sign him to a five-year deal to adequately prorate his signing bonus. Believe me, he and Rosenhaus aren't settling for another $5 million signing bonus with poison-pill roster bonuses included. They will want their $10 million - at least - up front. Guarantee you they've been keeping score of the signing bonuses being thrown around out here, and they aren't likely to make any age concessions. 

What to do, what to do? 

Now chances are none of this is news to Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones. They have thought all this out, too, but certainly don't want to tip their hand. Not in January. That wouldn't be good business on their part. 

And all Jones would say from Mobile, Ala., on the subject of a possible extension for Owens was "just haven't gone there." 

My guess is we can add the "yet" for him.  

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