Philly Releases Brian Westbrook; Chargers and LaDanian Tomlinson Part Ways: LT to Philly or Rejoining Brees in New Orleans?

Ah, the business side of football. Two of the most productive backs of this era both parted ways with their original teams in the last two days. Brian Westbrook, coming off a season where he suffered two concussions, was let go by the Philadelphia Eagles after 8 stellar seasons in Philly. He was the consummate all purpose back…even returning punts (over 10,000 return yards) and was a key cog in Philly being on of the most successful franchises in the NFL during his time as an Eagle. He rushed for 5,995 yards, caught 426 passes for another 3,790 yards and totaled 71 touchdowns…including 1 passing and 2 returns. One of those returns was epic. Trailing the Giants late in a pivotal 2003 contest, Westbrook broke a return up the left sideline which spurred the Eagles to an improbable victory. He’s the franchise leader in yards with 9,785. Andy Reid said of Westbrook: “Brian is one of the greatest Eagles of all time and he is an even better person and leader.” The Eagles are unlike most franchises and just don’t pay athletes over the age of 30.

LaDanian on the other hand was compared to history. Tomlinson was due a $2 million bonus in early March and his production was at career low levels this past season. During his time in San Diego, he put up some of the best numbers the game has ever seen. Rushing for 12,490 yards and collecting an astounding 153 touchdowns. There will be fan speculation the Eagles and Chargers might essentially trade backs but in this day and age, teams look at aging ball carriers differently. There is such a short shelf life for NFL backs and that these two were able to be productive for so long with their respective teams speaks to their talent and drive. One has to also remember that Drew Brees and LaDanian share an agent and came into the league together. If the pieces fit in terms of personnel transactions in the offseason, I can’t see this not happening. Nonetheless, the draft is in April and with these two free agents available, things will get mighty interesting as the season approaches.

I got a chance to tell Brian just how much he’s loved by the city recently. Anthony Gilbert and I covered the Iverson return game and afterwards we got a chance to talk to a couple of the players who were just hanging out. Brian, being the cat he is, was chilling with his replacement, LeSean McCoy…most likely acclimating him to everything system Philly. You got a sense that was it right there. Rare you get a chance outside of the locker room to speak to pros but I was both honored and relieved to tell Brian Westbrook thanks for the all the blood, sweat and tears he gave us. Take care of yourself brothaman. Good luck to you.

11 Responses to “Philly Releases Brian Westbrook; Chargers and LaDanian Tomlinson Part Ways: LT to Philly or Rejoining Brees in New Orleans?”

  1. Ron Glover says:

    My Brian Westbrook moment: October 19, 2003, the Eagles at 2-3 are trailing the New York Giants 10-7 in the Meadowlands and are in danger of falling further behind in the division until Westbrook returns a punt 84 yards late in the fourth quarter to give the Birds a 14-10 victory and propel them to a 9-game winning streak, earning the name The Miracle at the Meadowlands III.

  2. Temple3 says:

    2000 Chargers: (1-15). Franchise Value: $393M.

    “With the fifth pick of the 2001 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select
    running back, LaDainianTomlinson, TCU.”

    2001 Chargers: (5-11). Franchise Value: $416M.
    2009 Chargers: (13-3). Franchise Value: $917M.

    The driving force behind a $500M increase in franchise value will not get
    to cash in that $2M roster bonus.

  3. mapoui says:

    great running backs should all do like Detroit’s Sanders did: Quit ahead, while on top, on their own terms.

    I will always love Sanders for walking away as he did, when he did!

    great player! strong person!

  4. Ron Glover says:

    @ Temple, that’s one hell of a way to look at it.

  5. HarveyDent says:

    My best Westbrook memory was the 2009 playoff game against the Vikings when he took the screen from McNabb and took it over seventy yards to the house by setting up his blockers and picking his way through the defenders. Classic Westbrook where an observer could see all his talents on display; toughness, intelligence, and speed. Even more memorable because he was completely beat up and down that season but still helped the team to reach the NFCCG again.

    Great, great player and a class guy from all I’ve read about him.

  6. Mizzo says:

    That was last season. It was painful to see him limp around the locker room. The Philly brass beat him up by not giving him a true full back until this year?

  7. mapoui says:

    my comment might seem somewaht lame and unintelligent but to me, it is painful, appalling, to see Tomlinson and Westbrook, lame, down and out and shed by teams they did so much great work for.

    it breaks my heart and pisses me off that things can come to this pass for such great players, such brilliant players

    it would be have been much better if these players had quit on their own recognizing the time had come..rather than to be cut!

    are there ways to avoid this screams at me and I think of Sanders, Dorsett, guys who got away without this.

    it would have been much easier to take if Westbrook for example, with the concussions had walked before shoved by the Eagles. and since last year Tomlinson had done the same.

    how to deal with the money aspect, records to be set which would be assisted by longer careers?

    contracts should be front-loaded… to be paid up front at early points of achievement, when they can be set up on performance with the time to complete them, during the most productive playing years…after which points contracts can be scaled downwards to the end of careers when it is expected players performance will tail-off

    and if a player like Tomlinson for example who apparently, does not have it in him to do as Rickey Williams is doing…running effectively way into his early thirties…there is no point continuing if his body wont permit it.

    so quit with dignity when it becomes apparent the player can no longer do his job up to the required level.

    in Westbrooks case it was clear the Eagles were going to let him go.

    it is clear to me also that Westbrook should be done with football on health concerns, the wear and tear from giving his all to the Eagles for 8 strong years, with no help and cover a fullback would have afforded him and the Eagles.

    and no matter how tough he is, estbrook is just a small guy in a huge mans game, in the most physically punishing part of the game of football.

    so Westbrook should have quit himself. Tomlinson too… and all such players when the time comes.

    all thats left is to bring contract-making into line with the flow of careers so that players make the money at the right points, scaling down towards the end, leaving them the opportunity to walk when the time comes rather than being cut, pushed, shoved and showed-up

    walking at the right time should become the habbit in sports, especially in the NFL

  8. HarveyDent says:

    Good points, Mapoui, but you’re not factoring in the competitive nature of many of these guys and the fact that in LT and Westbrook’s cases they haven’t won titles. Barry Sanders was a very rare bird much like Jim Brown or Joe Don Looney who marched to his own beat and could care less about records (even though he fought the Lions, and rightfully so, for his money) as evidenced by walking away from the NFL right when the all-time rushing title was in his grasp and never looking back. It’s that competitive streak that has cost many football players especially running backs when it comes to their quality of life in their later days ie Earl Campbell but many of them refuse to leave if they think they can still contribute to a team and win.

    I was never Westbrook’s biggest fan because I always thought he was too light in the ass but I could see that he was/is a special player who would have been an asset to any team in the league. It’s true the Eagles braintrust does things assbackwards sometimes though. Logic would say if your feature back is under 5′ 10″ then you get him a fullback to play bodyguard like a goon in hockey just like logic would also say if your offense is geared towards the pass that you get your franchise QB stud receivers every season instead of going on the cheap. The fact that the Eagles had such a good decade this century speaks more to the fact of the talent of the players and the eye of the scouting department than the coaching.

  9. mapoui says:

    relative reality suggest to me what I consider the coordinates in the issue.

    the NFL is big business fundamentally and the facts involve are egos, as you have listed but also the state of the players bodies and the final decison that rests in the hands of clubs management.

    I prefer to consider Westbrook as courageous rather than foolhardy. but he had to know how the Eagles will act in any situation they must decide on and nothing he could possibly have done in his career would sway their decision relative to him anytine they felt they had to make one.

    yu see these bare fundamentals should convince to my mind the hardest- headed egotist of a football player, indeed most sportsmen… to quit when it is time to save body, mind and manhood….reputation…not to add a prologue of stupidty to otherwise pristine careers

    I understand the go point you raise. always did! but what on earth could make Tominson and Westbrook try to continue with other teams, more than stupidy which is what ego, unleavend by some measure of common sense, normal intelligence.

    I admit the ego point but suggested that quitting in time by athelets is to be evolved anyway….suggested as whole a way as I could as to how it could be developed.

    there is so much ‘real’ work for people like Tomlinson and Westbrook to do, in tranistion from playing careers, such a focus should be part of their outlook from the start

  10. Ron Glover says:

    I had someone tell me a while ago that the Eagles were going to burn him out the way they did Wilbert Montgomery, I argued the point because they run the ball at a 30% clip.

    I briefly forgot that in the NFL you’re one play away.

  11. Ron Glover says:

    Just looked over LT’s career stats over his 9 seasons in San Diego he has averaged 320 carries/season and 377 total touches/season overall. Including over 800 his first two seasons – Chargers shoulda cut that check.