1996: 49ers draft Owens
1999: 49ers sign Owens to 7 year contract with NFL record $7.5 million signing bonus.
2000: Owens celebrates on star, Steve Mariucci suspends him, and relationship becomes strained.
Summer 2002: Mariucci flies out to Atlanta to meet with Owens and then-agent David Joseph in an effort to improve relationship with Owens.
Summer 2003: With void clause in 1999 contract coming up in 2004, GM Terry Donahue meets with Joseph to discuss a contract extension, but decides the sides are too far apart. Star linebacker Julian Peterson was also scheduled to be a UFA, and was represented by the Postons, with rumors they could ask for a $30 million signing bonus. Cap-strained 49ers would end up franchising Peterson, but never did agree to a long-term deal with him.
Early 2004: Joseph files for free agency after Owens gets acquainted with McNabb at Pro Bowl. Misses deadline, remains under contract 49ers. 49ers have already cut QB Jeff Garcia. Joseph/Owens request a trade and Donahue agrees. 49ers were already in rebuilding mode.
Early 2004: Donahue sends Owens to Ravens in exchange for 2nd round pick.
Early 2004: Owens/Joseph file a grievance, since Owens thought they had a deal in place to send him to his desired destination, Philadelphia.
Early 2004: 49ers/Ravens/Eagles reach a settlement to send Owens to Philadelphia.
Early 2005: Owens seeks to renegotiate contract he signed under duress with Eagles while trying to beat the ruling on the grievance hearing. Eagles’ front office refuses.
August 2005: Owens ends holdout and comes to camp, but is still upset over contract and is suspended for a week for insubordination (skipped autograph signings, and when Reid went to confront him about it, they got in a heated argument). Media sensationalism is indescribable. You had to be there. Stalked him home, flew helicopters over his house, leading to him trying to make light of the situation by doing situps on his driveway. During this time, Owens was sent three notices warning him about his “insubordination,” telling him that any further actions would result in a suspension.
Fall 2005: At 4-3, 7 games into the season, with McNabb struggling with a sports hernia injury, Michael Irvin says Eagles would be undefeated with Brett Favre as their starting QB. In an interview later that week with Graham Bensinger, Bensinger asks Owens why the Eagles are struggling, and Owens says that if McNabb were healthy, their record would be better. As a follow up question, Bensinger asked Owens what he thought of Irvin’s assessment, and Owens said, “that’s a good assessment, I would agree with that,” and goes on to praise Favre. Media meltdown ensues, and Reid stipulates Owens apologize publicly to the organization, privately to McNabb, and stand in front of the team and apologize for the interview. Owens does the first but refuses the latter two parts, and is suspended and deactivated, ending his Eagles career.
2006: Cowboys sign Owens to a 3 year contract, with an option after the very first season that they could decline to pick up.
Early 2007: Cowboys pick up Owens’s option.
2008: Cowboys sign Owens to a contract extension.
2009: Cowboys release Owens at age 35, coming off his worst statistical season since 1999. During the 2008 season, with Owens in a statistical slump, the Cowboys had traded a 1st and 3rd round pick for Lions receiver Roy Williams and paid him #1 wide receiver money. Owens tells me he was sent a performance evaluation form after his release, and on said sheet it has different boxes that can be checked as to the reason for said release. On Owens’s release form, the box that was checked was for “performance.” None of the conduct boxes were checked.
2009: Bills sign Owens to a 1 year contract.
2010: Bengals sign Owens to a 1 year contract.
2011: Owens tears ACL. With lack of NFL interest for a 37-year-old coming off major reconstructive knee surgery, signs a deal with Arena League team to play only their home games, including 30% ownership cut (team cut him after he had played his last home game to save money).
2012: Seahawks sign Owens, 38-going-on-39, to 1 year contract. Drops balls in preseason and is cut.
End of career.