I guess it shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Earlier today, I was wondering why everyone was making such a big deal about LaDanian Tomlinson being released. The release of Westbrook hits closer to home, but when a guy is owed 7.5 million in this league, is 30 and coming off a couple of concussions, he’s at the end of the road. I think some fans thought the Eagles might renegotiate Westbrook, bring him back at a much more reasonable salary so he could play a complimentary role to LeSean McCoy, but listening to Andy Reid and Joe Banner it sounds like this is really the end. I don’t think we’re looking at a Jeremiah Trotter story here.
I’m sure Westbrook will catch on somewhere else. He’ll likely end up on a contender, a team that can use him in specific situations, tailor some plays to the skills he still possesses. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him in New England for example. I’m just throwing that out there, but it seems like there is always room in the Patriots backfield. The Eagles backfield now officially belongs to McCoy, who will go from upstart rookie to someone who is expected to produce on a consistent basis. The role of Leonard Weaver could continue to increase and the Eagles will need to add someone else in the backfield either through the draft or free agency.
Driving home I heard people debating Westbrook’s place in Eagles history. For me, he’s not a Hall of Fame back, but a guy who was extremely dangerous and in the perfect system for about a five-year stretch. His numbers compare well to other Eagles, but he played in an era with some really good running backs, and some of his measurable numbers don’t look so good compared to these guys that were rattling off 25 Tds a year. Westbrook scored 66 TDs as an Eagle, and his value, aside from the 2007 season probably isn’t properly represented in the numbers.
He was a guy who did a lot of things well, and for a few years was the only guy opposing defenses had to worry about, and yet he still was effective. Westbrook will certainly go down as one of the best Eagles draft pick of all-time, a steal out of Villanova, and it’s unfortunate that his last season in Philadelphia finished the way it did, marred with injuries. I’m not one of these guys that remembers every play from football games years ago, and I think someone else could do a lot better job of recounting Westy’s greatness, but I do remember the punt return against New York. It’s probably his defining play, and almost the defining play of an era of Eagles football, turning around a season that if it had gone differently…who knows.
So, the fans in Philly will miss Westbrook, but it’s time to move on. Appreciate what they had, hope to find a comparable replacement in the future.