Brian Westbrook, released yesterday by the Eagles after eight seasons, said he has no plans to retire and has already heard from three or four teams that are interested in his services. He also said he is "completely healed" from the two concussions he suffered this past season.
Westbrook made his first public comments since his release in a radio interview with 97.5 The Fanatic this morning.
"My plan is not to retire," he said. "My plan is to continue to play football. I’ve already startred training for next season. That doesn’t necessarily mean there are teams that will pick me up ... I’m going to put all my effort into [returning]. I will make a return to the NFL. It will just not be with the Philadelphia Eagles."
Westbrook said it had not really sunk in yet that he was no longer with the Eagles.
“It’s a difficult thing, but at the same time I’m happy for the past 8 years that I’ve had there," Westbrook said. "I’m also happy for the opportunity to continue to play football. There are 32 teams out there. Unfortunately, I was not able to finish my career in Philadelphia. Hopefully, I’ll have an opportunity to play for another team.”
Westbrook said the first he heard about being released was when he received a phone call from Andy Reid yesterday. He said there had been no discussions about his returning to the team at a reduced price. Westbrook, who missed eight games last season, was scheduled to make $7.25 million next season.
"No one ever really hinted at that. They didn’t discuss it," Westbrook said about a potential pay cut. "The first thing I heard about being released or anything was yesterday. I got the phone call yesterday and he said we’re going to release you. I said, OK. Really other than that, there was no other communication between me and the team about possibly taking a pay cut or anything like that. It was just, ‘we’re going to release you.’ I guess in their mindset it gives me the opportunity to latch on with another team through free agency and I appreciate that."
Asked if he would have considered taking a pay cut, Westbrook said, "I think that was probably a possibility. At this point, it’s a moot point. I’m not sure to be honest. I didn’t get that opportunity. They did give me an opportunity to become a free agent at the beginning of the free agency period, which I appreciate. I didn’t have opportunity to even consider coming back at a reduced point. In one way, that’s fair and in another way, I wish they would have given me the opportunity."
Westbrook said he understood the team's decision.
"In this game, a lot of people say there is no loyalty. In a way, there is and in a way there is some loyalty," he said. "The Eagles have given me a lot of opportunities to be succesful in the NFL. In this day and age, it is hard for teams to keep veterans, especially aging veterans at a high salary number, when they can get younger players potentially to fill those same needs for the money a little bit cheaper. It's hard for teams to do that, epecially when a guy has battled injuries for the last year and a half or so the way I have. I underastnad that, I comlpetely do. I wish I would have had the opportunity to finish things a little bit better than I did in Philadelphia. Now, I have the opportunity to finish up with another team. I saw last year with the Brian Dawkins thing. For the Eagles, it’s definitely a business situation. I understand that. I understand the business and I accept it as that."
Westbrook said he has talked to Reid, general manager Howie Roseman and several assistant coaches. He said he has not talked to team president Joe Banner or owner Jeffrey Lurie, but said he "would love to talk to them at any point when they are free."
Westbrook also thanked the fans and his teammates.
"I am grateful for the time I spent in Philadelphia," he said. "I really appreciate all the support I was able to gain from all the fans, especially, my teammates and friends and coaches as well. It was a great experience, a great eight years. I'm thankful to Coach Reid for giving my the opportunity and to the fans for bringing me and accepting me into their homes and cheering me on week in and week out for 8 years."