No matter how much things may change, leave it to the Eagles to remain the same. Produce, and they'll keep you. At least until you're 30 years old. Then a meeting with the press ensues, of course, followed by gratuitous praise for years of service. Right before Andy Reid gets back to the business of being competitive, while Joe Banner maintains salary-cap space - and both are assured that Donovan McNabb is still around to receive the brunt of the blame.

Don't you love it?

Brian Westbrook sure doesn't, and who can blame him? After eight years of relatively exemplary service, tainted by an injury-plagued 2009 season, the same running back who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2007 is suddenly looking for a job. Mainly because he was due $7.25 million in a 2010 season that is expected to be uncapped.

Of course, Reid didn't hesitate to state the obvious when alluding to Westbrook's departure: "This is absolutely the worst part of the job. But if you're fortunate enough to stick around long enough, you're going to see these things happen."

Oh, I see. Westbrook, drafted 91st in 2002, who set Eagles records for touches (1,734) and yards from scrimmage (9,785), was clearly the team's best player for at least two, possibly three, seasons. But Reid was "fortunate enough" to see him lose his job? But Reid, Banner and all the others in charge who repeatedly fall short of Super Bowl glory year after every stinking year get to keep their paychecks coming, huh?

Where's Don "Only in America" King when you need him most?

Correction: His presence wouldn't matter because the Eagles wouldn't listen, anyway. As far as they're concerned, there's nothing to complain about.

The Eagles wouldn't hesitate to point out Reid's 108-67 record over 11 regular seasons (a .617 winning percentage). The eight winning seasons in that span. The five trips to the NFC title game. The Super Bowl appearance in 2005. The constant, unwavering, continual support of the local faithful, which has padded owner Jeffrey Lurie's bulging wallet along the way.

But what about a Super Bowl?

"The Eagles don't really care about that," said one noted NFL agent, preferring anonymity, knowing he may have to deal with the Eagles in the future. "It's not that they don't care about winning. It's really about what they define as winning. They pride themselves in being like the Patriots, but they're nothing like New England. The Eagles look to scoot away talent at age 30, looking to infuse their youth movement, while the Patriots won't hesitate to add a veteran here or there."

Brian Dawkins can attest to it. So can Hugh Douglas. So can Jeremiah Trotter, Bobby Taylor, Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas, Troy Vincent, and a host of others. That's not to say the Eagles made the wrong decisions with any of those individuals at the time they were made. But it does raise the question: What did they truly accomplish by severing ties of veterans who knew how to lead?

The Eagles, no doubt, will insult all of our intelligence by elevating McNabb to that post. But considering that McNabb's future is a question mark with this franchise - especially if he wakes up and decides he wants to play in Arizona or Minnesota (if Brett Favre retires) - they can't sell that to anyone.

So who will lead this franchise in the season to come, in a likely uncapped year in which the Eagles have eight restricted free agents of their own? Who'll decide to revert to 2004, when a gutsy move brought Terrell Owens to town, and firmly decide that second place and consolation prizes are no longer acceptable?

What about acquiring Julius Peppers? Or Minnesota's Chester Taylor? How about calling up the Carolina Panthers and seeing if one of their 1,000-yard runners, DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart, may be available? And since Broncos coach Josh McDaniels seems to have his issues with Brandon Marshall, why not call Denver for an inquiry to get McNabb some help?

Sounds like some good ideas. For football. If we're talking money, that's an entirely different matter, of course.

Something the Eagles remind us about every off-season.

Contact columnist Stephen A. Smith at 215-854-5846