The Eagles announced today that they are releasing veteran running back Brian Westbrook as opposed to picking up the final year of his contract that would pay him 7.25 million next season. The move will not become official until after the new NFL year starts on March 5th, but the team decided to make their decision public in order to allow him test the waters with any other teams that may be interested in picking him up.
While no one should be really surprised with this move, it is still hard to imagine not having #36 in the Eagles' backfield next year. This move was not about money, rather it was about reality. Westbrook is 30 years old and has not been completely healthy for over two years. His numbers have consistently decreased over the past few seasons and when Philly drafted LeSean McCoy in the second round last year the handwriting was on the wall that 2009 would probably be his last year regardless of how well he played.
Westbrook spent eight seasons in Philadelphia and was already a hometown favorite after playing his college ball at Villanova. He was drafted in 2002 in the second round and made an immediate impact in his first season with the Birds primarily on special teams. His best season was in 2007 when he rushed for 1,333 yards and had another 771 receiving yards to lead the NFL in yards from scrimmage that year.
He certainly made the most of his time in Philly as he is the Eagles all time leader in yards from scrimmage with 9,785. He ranks second in rushing yards (5,995) and third in receptions (426) and TDs (68).
The one intangible you cannot measure was his ability to come up with a big run or reception that would that would result in a key first down or a game changing score. He was one of those few players that opposing teams had to game plan against, and yet there were very few times in his prime that he was ever completely shut down.
After sustaining back to back concussions last season I honestly thought we had seen the last of him not only in Philadelphia, but in the NFL. He will probably latch on somewhere and be able to contribute to a certain extent, but for his overall health and well being I would love to see him call it a career and ride off in the NFL sunset wearing Eagles green.