By Andy Schwartz
First LaDainian Tomlinson. Now Brian Westbrook.
One day after the Chargers released Tomlinson, the most prolific back in their history, the Eagles announced they plan to cut ties with Westbrook, arguably the best back to wear the midnight green and silver.
Westbrook and Tomlinson often have been compared to each other because, as running and receiving threats, both struck fear into opposing defenses.
Now both are free agents.
Westbrook was entering his ninth season in the NFL and scheduled to make $7.5 million. The Eagles, not surprisingly, decided that’s too much to commit to a 30-year-old running back who played only eight games last season because of concussions, knee and ankle injuries.
While Westbrook wasn’t the best pure running back in franchise history – that’s Wilbert Montgomery – he certainly is the most versatile.
Selected by the Eagles in the third round of the 2002 draft, Westbrook leaves as the team’s all-time leader in yards from scrimmage (9,785). He is first among Eagles’ running backs in receptions (426), receiving yards (3,790) and touchdown receptions (29).
Westbrook is second in rushing yards (5,995) behind Montgomery (6,538).
After sharing carries in his first two seasons, Westbrook became the Eagles’ primary back in 2004. Since that season, he leads all running backs in receptions (380), receiving yards (3,372), touchdown catches (25) and yards after the catch (3,126).
Tomlinson is second in each category.
In a statement posted on the team website, head coach Andy Reid said
“Brian is one of the greatest Eagles of all time and he is even a better person and leader.”
“We wanted to make this move now in order to maximize Brian’s chances of landing with another NFL team,”
he let Westbrook know about his decision Tuesday morning. “This is by far the most difficult part of this job.”