Brian Westbrook joined LaDainian Tomlinson on the unemployment line today, as the Philadelphia Eagles released the 30 year old running back. One of the best all around backs in football, Westbrook was a dual threat, excelling at running, and catching the ball out of the backfield. Unfortunately for Westbrook, because of injuries, he was limited to playing in only eight games for the Eagles this past season.
In his 8 year NFL career, Westbrook has never played a complete 16 game season. Because of that fact, Westbrook will be looked at cautiously by any suitors. While teams like the Lions, Browns, Chiefs, Seattle, and possibly the Colts may consider Westbrook, it’s hard to say which team will take a risk on him. It’s not the talent of the former pro bowler that’s in question, it’s his ability to stay on the field.
The Eagles will miss having Westbrook in the organization, but they must move on with healthy players who can contribute more on the field. The Eagles will look for a veteran running back to team with last years rookie, LeSean McCoy. The Eagles are a smart, well run franchise, and did the right thing releasing the often injured Westbrook. When you factor in Westbrook’s contract it was clear the Eagles couldn’t risk that kind of money on a player who can no longer be a featured back. In his current condition, Westbrook isn’t worth $7.25 million this season, and when he refused to take a pay cut, the decision was easy for the Eagles.
Like San Diego, Philadelphia may consider Chester Taylor as a replacement for Westbrook. It’s unlikely they’ll get a rookie to team with the young McCoy. The Eagles are a team built to win now, and have a good blend of youth and veteran players, something they’ll also need at the running back position.
The Eagles play in arguably the toughest division in football, the NFC East. They will be pushed by the Cowboys, and Giants who I think will rebound next season. The loss of Westbrook doesn’t weaken the Eagles chances in the division, as they had to play half the season without him last year, but if McCoy doesn’t play well, the Eagles will struggle.
Westbrook’s career is winding down, just as the window for this current Eagles team, led by Donovan McNabb, to win the Super Bowl is winding down. As the Eagles try to make it to the Super Bowl, Westbrook will try and resurrect his career. It will be interesting to see which one does better without the other.