Westbrook cuts off contract talks with Eagles
"Me and my agent have told the Eagles' management that we're no longer interested in talking to them as far as the contract situation," Westbrook said Thursday. "We don't feel as though we've received a proposal from them that really represents the value that I bring to this team and my market value. I think that in the last 2½, 3 years that I've been here, I've brought a lot to this team."
Westbrook, talking for the first time since reporting to training camp after a one-week holdout, had been seeking a long-term deal after signing a one-year restricted free agent offer for $1.43 million.
"It's just frustrating for me to come to work every day knowing that in the back of my mind I feel kind of disrespected by the offer that I continue to get from the Eagles," he said.
In his three-year career, Westbrook has rushed for 1,618 yards and 10 touchdowns and caught 119 passes for 1,121 yards and 10 TDs.
"I run the ball, I catch the ball, and for this team I am very valuable," Westbrook said. "I think any time a defense or any other team comes in here ... one of the players that they have to stop when they come play the Philadelphia Eagles is Brian Westbrook."
Westbrook skipped the Eagles' post-draft mini-camp and sat out the first week of training camp. He switched agents, from Anthony Agnone to Fletcher Smith, who also represents Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, and was looking for a five-year deal before the start of the season.
Team president Joe Banner said it was decided last Thursday there would be no more negotiations after they reached an impasse. Banner understood why Westbrook was upset, though he didn't think that sour attitude would carry onto the field.
"He still wants to be here, we still want him to be here, and in the end we think it will have a positive [resolution]," Banner said.
Westbrook said the numbers are far apart and two sides have never really come close to reaching an agreement.
"It may not be acceptable to him, but it was a significant offer," Banner said. "I think the level of disrespect, if there is any, is pretty minor."
The versatile Westbrook is coming off a breakout season in which he led the team with 1,515 total yards and was tops among NFL running backs with 73 catches for 703 yards and six touchdowns, despite sitting out the last two regular-season games. Westbrook was a key part of the Eagles' trip to the Super Bowl and caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in the 24-21 loss to the Patriots.
"I'm still going to come out here and be the best running back I can be," he said.
Team president Joe Banner was scheduled to address Westbrook's contract status after the Eagles' afternoon practice.
A third-round pick from Villanova in 2002, Westbrook feels he's been shortchanged the big bucks other premier backs get from the very start of their careers.
"I didn't get $12 million to sign, I got chump change to sign," Westbrook said. "At this point in my career, I have to find somewhere where I can make some money."
Westbrook's size -- he's generously listed at 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds in Philadelphia's media guide -- caused doubts he'd be able to handle the rigors of being a featured back.
But he missed just one game because of injury last year, with a broken rib, and missed only one regular-season game in both 2002 and 2003. He did miss the postseason two years ago with a torn triceps.
While Westbrook has never rushed for 1,000 yards, running back is not the primary option in coach Andy Reid's pass-first West Coast offense. Westbrook said he could deliver All-Pro numbers if had more carries.
Westbrook joins All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens as two of the unhappy Eagles inside the huddle. Owens also wants a new deal -- the Eagles have refused to give him one -- and created a rift with quarterback McNabb through some very public criticisms.
There are a couple of risks for Westbrook, of course. He could get hurt and the Eagles could slap the franchise tag on him at the end of the season leaving him in a similar situation next year.
Those are risks he's willing to take.
"Every time I step on the field, I'm productive," he said. "Every time I go to the bank ... I want to see the result of that. For me, my lifestyle, the things that I want to do, the things that I want to do after football, the money situation is going to affect all of that. So for me, it's personal."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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