Eagles release Westbrook – will McNabb be jettisoned next?

Just one day after the Chargers parted with legend LaDainian Tomlinson, the Eagles followed suit by releasing one-time franchise running back Brian Westbrook on Tuesday.

The writing has been on the wall for a couple months now. Westbrook only played in eight games last year after dealing with a concussion for most of the season. He was due to make $7.25 million in 2010 and after drafting his eventual replacement (“Shady” McCoy) last year, it was unlikely that the Eagles were going to honor the final year of Westbrook’s contract. He should find work elsewhere, although given his age (30) and durability concerns, he might not get more than a one or two-year contract.

Now that Westbrook has been released, the Eagles might turn their attention to quarterback Donovan McNabb’s situation. McNabb’s base salary in 2010 is $5 million, plus he’s due a $6.2 million roster bonus on May 5. With Kevin Kolb waiting in the wings, it’s rumored that if Philly can acquire a first round pick in exchange for McNabb, they’ll deal him this offseason.

But will any team be willing to part with a first round pick for a 33-year-old quarterback that only has one year left on his contract? McNabb is still extremely productive. He finished 2009 with a 92.9 QB rating after throwing for 3,553 yards and 22 touchdowns. The criticism he receives about not taking the Eagles to the next level despite multiple postseason appearances is warranted and he’s probably a borderline top 10 quarterback at this point. But again, he still produces and would be the best quarterback on the market if he were/is available.

I went into more detail about this subject a couple weeks ago, but I would say he’s worth giving up a first round pick for a team like the Vikings (depending on whether or not Lord Favre decides to retire, of course). Minnesota already has a playoff roster, but it needs strong play from its quarterback if it ever hopes to reach the Super Bowl. Given McNabb’s familiarity with Brad Childress’ offense, it would be a seamless transition for him to go from Philadelphia to Minnesota and thus, a late first round pick would be worth giving up in order to acquire him. In fact, the Vikings might be a perfect fit for Westbrook seeing as how they’re not expected to re-sign Chester Taylor.

That said, it would make less sense for a team like the Rams or Bills to part with a first round pick, given how high they’re both selecting in April and seeing as how they’re not ready to challenge for a postseason berth in 2010.

It’s already been an interesting offseason in Philadelphia and free agency hasn’t even begun yet. Westbrook’s release might be the first step in the Eagles’ plan to turn the chapter and head into 2010 with a new backfield.

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