IRVING, Texas - Terrell Owens has been on his best behavior for quite a while. The Dallas Cowboys are doing their best to keep it that way.

Both sides agreed yesterday to a 3-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.

Owens' last few deals have been nothing but headline-makers. There was the 7-year, $48.97 million contract he got from the 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 3-year, $25 million deal from the Cowboys.

Owensled the NFL with 13 touchdown catches in 2006, then had an NFC-best 15 more last season. His 2-year total is tops in the NFL.

Owens has insisted for months that he wasn't worried about his next contract because Jerry 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.

Owens, 35, will turn 39 in December of the final year of the extension, 2011.

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. *