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The T.O. Score Starts Now

created. But remember, the slate is clean. This score is up to you. 

And there should be no buyer's remorse here on either side, especially Owens', not as he had in Philadelphia when the Eagles handed him $13.5 million his first year and then felt insulted with the $3.5 million the next, knowing he wasn't guaranteed the $5 million due him earlier this week. But who's fault was that? Who signed the contract? 

As for Jones, the guy sure has some nerve. But then again, he had a lot of nerve just buying this franchise that was wallowing in red ink back in 1989. He had a lot of nerve trading for Haley and then paying Deion an unheard of at the time $12.999 million signing bonus. 

His was a fair deal with moderately sprinkled safeguards. Owens gets a $5 million signing bonus as part of the three-year, $25 million deal. His first year's base is another $5 million. That means Owens pockets $10 million this year, about as much as he was supposed to make in Philly. 

But here is the key to the deal: There are $3 million roster bonuses due in March for 2007 and 2008. Things go bad, the Cowboys don't have to pay. Just issue him marching papers again, which likely would be his final ones in the NFL. And if they should do so after one year, because the 2006 base salary and signing bonus are even and high, the cap hit would only be $3.34 million. Hey, the Cowboys are talking about eating $4 million this year if they cut Larry Allen. So not bad. 

And the base salaries the final two years are $5 million and $4 million. Average it out, and Owens is averaging $8.33 million over the life of the contract. That's pretty darn good pay for a wide receiver these days, but enough incentive there to keep his powder dry. 

Minimized risk. 

Now Jones went out of his way to separate risk from risky. 

"There is risk in any decision we make," he said. "But I don't want it implied this was a risky decision." 

Jones believes in the risk-reward theorem: Higher the risk, higher the reward. And in this case, he knows the opportunity to sign a player of Owens' caliber at the price he did and with those second- and third-year safeguards doesn't come along too often.  

Listening to Jerry talk at this press conference, likely purposefully wearing his Cowboys blue sport coat with the sparkling silver star pinned to his lapel, you got the distinct feeling he was not talking to us, those 60 strong in the media out here on a rainy Saturday afternoon, but all you guys, the fans either listening live on and The Ticket or now reading all that was said. 

He wanted you guys to feel as if you belonged. He was trying to reassure you, and probably my buddy, too, he was not being as reckless with his decision as Owens was with his back in 2000 when he so blasphemously postured on the Texas Stadium midfield star. For shame, for shame. 

But this is bidness. 

"This may work, and really work great for the Cowboys, because it does give us an opportunity to take a player and do some things we haven't been able to do offensively," Jones said. "That's the logic we used to decide to basically go forward and make Terrell a part of the future of the Dallas Cowboys. That's what we see. 

"This was not done cavalierly, it was not done because we wanted to be on the front page of the papers. It was done because we looked at it strictly from the standpoint of what Terrell could bring to the table, joined with players like Roy Williams and joined with players like Drew Bledsoe, and really let us have a chance to have a team." 

As you can see, none of this discussion even deals with Owens' ability. None of it. That seems to be a universal given. This has to do with his character, his ability to be part of a team instead of detonate one. 

So get out your pencils and paper. Draw up a scorecard. Good Terrell. Bad Terrell. History, oh it matters. That's why we are doing this. But don't let history predetermine your score. 

And I'd say, all things considered from Saturday, and just what you'd expect after Day one, Terrell is up, 1-0. 

Next inning, and come on, sort out your shamrocks.    Continue reading: Page 1 Page 3

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valign=top> !   So now you know why the Cowboys were being so conservative in free agency. They just sapped $6.67 million out of this year's cap to sign Owens.    !  Now I'm guessing all your worries over right tackle are somewhat assuaged by the signing of Jason Fabini to the three-year, $4.5 million deal, with a $1.75 million signing bonus. That means they have a veteran capable of starting, but at that price, doesn't necessarily mean he must start him if Rob Petitti or Torrin Tucker (OK, maybe I'm dreaming) win the job, or if they just so happen to use a first-round pick on an offensive tackle.    !  OK, now the Cowboys can turn their attention to signing a kicker since they have a better idea of just where they are under the salary cap.    !  And please, don't bother e-mailing me about Bill Parcells not being around for Saturday's press conference, and jumping to conclusions about that. Since Parcells has been here, he has never attended one of these free-agent-signing press conferences. Not Keyshawn Johnson's and not even Drew Bledsoe's. So don't make a mountain out of a molehill.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

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