Overpaying Westbrook could hit Eagles in cap

Updated: April 14, 2007, 5:41 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

How good was Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook in 2006?

Brian Westbrook
Westbrook

So good, apparently, that the Eagles paid him twice. Or at least they anted up twice on the $3 million roster bonus that Westbrook was due.

Team officials have confirmed that, because of an accounting error, Westbrook was twice awarded a $3 million roster bonus for 2006 that was part of the five-year, $25 million contract extension the five-year veteran signed in November 2005. Westbrook reportedly has acknowledged the overage and agreed to repay the money.

But because the Eagles have yet to be reimbursed, which could negatively impact on the Eagles' salary cap status, the team has been forced to file a grievance with the league office seeking repayment. A team official stressed there was no acrimony between the Eagles and their star tailback, that repayment is anticipated, and that the grievance was a technicality aimed at avoiding any cap implications.

Westbrook's agent could not be reached for comment on the extra bonus, which was first reported on Friday evening by ComcastSportsNet.com. It is not clear when, or how, the overage was discovered by the Eagles and Westbrook. One potential complication to the reimbursement is that Westbrook has already paid taxes on the extra $3 million.

Such an accounting gaffe is unusual for any NFL team, but especially for the Eagles, who are among the league's premier franchises in terms of salary cap management.

As of Saturday, the league had not charged the accounting error to the Eagles' salary cap. The team remains about $10 million under the NFL spending limit of $109 million for '07.

Westbrook, 27, registered a career season in 2006. On the ground, he posted career highs in carries (240) and yards (1,217), and tied his career best with seven touchdowns. He also had a career-high 77 receptions for 699 yards and four touchdowns.

A third-round pick in the 2002 draft, Westbrook has emerged as one of the NFL's most versatile performers and the centerpiece of the Philadelphia offense. In 70 games, including 49 starts, the former Villanova star has rushed for 3,452 yards and 20 touchdowns on 736 carries, and has 257 catches for 2,436 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.