Westbrook's new deal worth nearly $25M extension
The Eagles on Sunday signed running back Brian Westbrook to a five-year contract extension that runs through the 2010 season and is worth slightly less than $25 million. It includes bonuses between $9 million and $10 million. This spring, Westbrook signed a one-year restricted free agent qualifying offer for $1.43 million.
"I'm glad to have an opportunity to continue my career in Philadelphia," Westbrook said in a statement Sunday. "I've worked very hard to put myself in a position to receive a long-term contract and I'm glad the Eagles have recognized my talents and dedication to this team."
Without the extension, Westbrook would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency after this season. In what is projected as a very lean free agent pool, Westbrook might have been one of the most coveted players in the market.
"As I've said many times before, Brian is a big part of this offense and a big part of this team as a representative on and off the football field," coach Andy Reid said in a statement. "I really believe both the player and the team benefit from each other."
Securing Westbrook, who is clearly a key to the Eagles' offense, has been a priority for team president Joe Banner. But until recently, the numbers were not right, and the sides had a difficult time defining the financial market for a player who is not the prototype franchise-type running back.
A sticking point in negotiations had been Westbrook's compensation over the first three seasons of the deal, valued at $16 million. The Eagles had been offering $7 million to sign and $14 million over three.
"In the end, we are happy that we were able to secure a contract that keeps Brian in Philadelphia and rewards him for his outstanding contributions to the Eagles organization," said Westbrook's agent, Fletcher Smith, who, along with CSMG partner Kennard McGuire, has negotiated major deals in the past year for Lions defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, Rams left tackle Orlando Pace, and Jaguars defensive end Reggie Hayward totalling more than $37 million.
The contract will be forwarded to the league office Monday, which is the NFL's deadline for being able to push much of the salary cap impact into this year. Philadelphia, which entered the weekend about $10 million under the cap, has plenty of room to spare.
Arguably the NFL's top salary cap manager, Banner is adroit at such in-season extensions. And because he almost always assures the Eagles have sufficient cap room to complete such extensions, they have become an annual event, it seems. Talks with Westbrook have been ongoing and were ratcheted up in recent days.
Westbrook, 26, has been the subject of much scrutiny in Philadelphia because the feeling is that he has not gotten enough carries in an Eagles offense heavily skewed toward the pass. Two weeks ago, the former Villanova standout publicly acknowledged that the team needed to lean more on the running game, and that he needed more "touches" in general.
A third-round pick in the 2002 draft, Westbrook is regarded as one of the NFL's premier all-around backs. He began his career primarily as a return man and third-down back, but became the full-time starter in 2004.
In 50 appearances, including 30 starts, Wesbrook has carried 418 times for 1,922 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also has 158 receptions for 1,544 yards and 11 scores. Westbrook has 78 carries for 304 yards and one touchdown in seven games this season, along with 39 catches for 423 yards and four touchdowns.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here . Michael Smith contributed to this report.
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