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.