Negotiations continued late into the night, aimed at wrapping up the details on a new contract for Brian Westbrook, sources close to the situation indicated. The Eagles are expected to announce the deal Friday, before their preseason opener in Pittsburgh.
The team’s negotiators, Eagles president Joe Banner and player personnel vice president Howie Roseman, and Westbrook’s agent, Todd France, faced some formidable hurdles in reworking Westbrook’s current contract, which has three more years to run. But there were strong indications Thursday night that those hurdles were in the process of being surmounted.
The Eagles generally are tough negotiators, particularly when a contract has years to run, but no less an authority than owner Jeffrey Lurie publicly acknowledged this week that Westbrook has outperformed his five-year, $25 million deal. Last season, Westbrook was an All-Pro running back, and set a franchise record with 2,104 yards from scrimmage. That figure led the NFL, as did Westbrook’s 104 first downs.
Westbrook said when he reported to training camp that he wanted the deal done quickly, and he didn’t rule out not playing in the preseason opener if that didn’t happen. On Wednesday, Westbrook said he would play, but he also dropped several hints that a deal was close, and again emphasized that he wanted to see it happen very quickly. If the pact is announced today, obviously, it will have been achieved before he had to risk injury playing in a game under his old deal.
It wasn’t clear last night how much new money Westbrook will get, but because a roster bonus was converted to a signing bonus earlier this year, another revision can’t increase his cap number for the remaining three years of the deal. That number is about $15 million.
Because ownsership has opted out of the collective bargaining agreement, uncapped years are coming up, which invokes the “Deion rule.” Basically, there can’t be a huge disparity between Westbrook’s signing bonus and his base salary. Also ticklish was the “30 percent rule,” which in this case meant 2010 can’t be more than a 30 percent increase over what Westbrook made in 2009, not including signing bonus.
Westbrook has maintained there are ways to make him one of the league’s highest-paid running backs within those restrictions, though neither he nor France has offered details.
The Eagles are believed to be eager to show fans and other players that they reward extraordinary achievement – which also was part of their motivation the last time they announed a contract agreement with Westbrook, on the November 2005 weekend that they parted ways with wideout Terrell Owens.
Also, guard Shawn Andrews did not respond to messages regarding his situation. Andrews was scheduled to meet with his doctor Thursday in Arkansas.