THE RAIDERS AND Terrell Owens, a match made in ... 2009?

It could happen.

It could not.

But let's delve into the possibility of merging the NFL's most notorious wide receiver with the Raiders' future cornerstones, quarterback JaMarcus Russell and running back Darren McFadden.

That would be a potent cocktail of offensive talent, and perhaps that could entice Owens into a Bay Area encore, having fled the 49ers in 2004 after eight seasons.

So why bring this up now? Because his three-year contract — and three-step career revival — with the Dallas Cowboys ends after this coming season.

When the Cowboys signed two players to lucrative contract extensions last week, neither was named Terrell Eldorado Owens. Running back Marion Barber and cornerback Terence Newman were the ones racking up contracts worth a combined $95 million.

Owens reacted calmly. For now. He'll want to get paid, too, and he'll command more than the three-year, $25 million pact he got as a Philadelphia Eagles castoff in 2006. To paraphrase his former publicist, he'll want another 25 million reasons to live.

"It's not a big deal. I don't even feel comfortable talking about it," Owens told the Dallas Morning News last week regarding his contract status. "It's easy for me because of the relationship."


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He means his relationship with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who rarely lets his superstars escape to another galaxy. With a $1 billion stadium opening in 2009, Jones surely will want Owens on that field.

"I met with Jerry my first year (2006) and talked to him on the phone more than I ever did with the owners in San Francisco and Philly. He's a guy that's very personable," Owens added. "He interacts, and he talks with his players. And that's all you ever want."

Gosh, if an interactive owner is what he wants, it's Al Davis that he should have.

The Raiders have been throwing money around this offseason to try climbing out of their five-season swoon. Their collective wallet shouldn't snap shut next offseason if Owens is available. He'd love to succeed where Randy Moss failed.

The Raiders addressed their void at wide receiver for 2008 by bringing in Javon Walker and Drew Carter to complement Ronald Curry. All three have injury concerns, and even if they all pan out OK, there's still room for Owens in '09.

If Owens hits the free-agent market next spring, he'll be much more coveted than he was when the Eagles cut bait with him in 2006.

Since leaving Philadelphia, Owens' career has returned to a Pro Bowl level. Aside from his near-death experience in September 2006 after overdosing on painkillers, he's had a surprisingly unselfish existence in Dallas.

He's producing quite well, too. His two-season totals in Dallas: 166 receptions, 2,535 yards, 28 touchdowns. Michael Irvin is the only other Cowboys receiver to ever produce a better two-year stretch. The Cowboys would be wise to keep Owens linked with quarterback Tony Romo.

As well behaved as he's been, Owens certainly has the capacity to fall out of favor quickly with an organization, especially if he feels disrespected in terms of a lame-duck contract. And especially if the Cowboys stumble out of the gate, fall from their perch as an NFC favorite and thus deny Owens another shot at his first Super Bowl ring.

Owens' size (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) and penchant for finding the end zone will make Davis reminisce about 1960s star Art Powell (6-3, 211).

At age 34, Owens isn't a spry kid. But he's famously well conditioned. And because he wants to be the next Jerry Rice, Owens likely has another six years in him.

If those years aren't with the Raiders, another Bay Area team is crying out for wide receiver help. Owens didn't burn bridges on his way out of the 49ers locker room in 2004 as much as his agent misjudged the void date of Owens' contract. Now here's an image: Owens rejoining the 49ers, along with quarterback Jeff Garcia (in his last year of a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and coach Steve Mariucci (on call at the NFL Network).

Nah, it's easier to envision Owens in silver. But will that silver helmet feature a Cowboys star or a Raiders shield? Tune in next year.

Contact Cam Inman at cinman@bayareanewsgroup.com