PITTSBURGH - There are a few reasons negotiations for Eagles running back Brian Westbrook's new contract extended into August, just hours before the team kicked off its preseason against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
It's long. It's particular. And boy, is it complicated.
The Eagles and Westbrook finalized the star's brand-new six-year deal Friday afternoon, and the running back signed the contract shortly before kickoff. But, as Eagles president Joe Banner explained, it wasn't something the Eagles ever placed on the backburner; talks had been considered a priority since January. But getting the numbers to work within the NFL's strict Collective Bargaining Agreement had stalemated discussions and piled pages onto the already-thick contract.
Video Banner called the contract "the most complicated contract (he's) ever seen," with upwards of 60 pages of text, more than 50 of that total in addendums.
In respect for Westbrook's privacy, Banner said, terms were not disclosed, but he assured that rules prevented the process from becoming an easy one.
"It's a complicated deal, with extension years, and potential voided years, and escalators," Banner said. "Everything that I've ever seen in any contract is in this deal."
What's certain is that the five-year extension Westbrook signed in 2005 is an afterthought, and he is now paid as he wanted to be – among the elite running backs in the NFL. On the surface, his new contract is a six-year agreement beginning in 2008, but it could last as few as three seasons, Banner said.
Should Westbrook produce at a similar level to what he has during the past two seasons, Banner expected the deal to be on the shorter side, "three or four years."
Banner said changes to the NFL's salary cap starting with the 2010 season, an uncapped year, had extended talks for about 48 hours. Once the numbers had been fit into the structure, lawyers combed the contract for potential irregularities, and approved the deal.
The deal, Banner said, doesn't much affect the Eagles' cap situation for 2008, but changes will be more noticeable by the third year of the deal.
Banner said Westbrook's professionalism, along with that of his new agent, Todd France, throughout negotiations had smoothed the process as much as possible.
"It's a very complicated deal. They hung in there," Banner said. "There was never one single moment, privately, where there was any threat. 'I'm not playing in the game, I'm not coming to camp.' … They couldn't have been more positive or professional throughout the whole thing."
Smiling, Banner finds it hard to believe the renegotiation will help to curb the stigma of stinginess the Eagles' front office has developed over the past decade. He said the Eagles analyze every situation differently to ensure that players are treated fairly, but the accusations still linger.
"We don't sit here with a bunch of hard and fast rules. We have guidelines, we have philosophies that we try to stay consistent with so that we're predictable to people," Banner said. "But on the other hand, we always try to approach individual situations and address what we though that position warranted."
Banner offered no update on discussions with cornerback Lito Sheppard and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. … Because of the Westbrook negotiations, he admitted he was "a day behind" in regards to guard Shawn Andrews' situation. Published reports have said Andrews has been medically approved to return to football after battling depression. He said the team has a medical plan for Andrews in place for when he returns, but all plans regarding football will be left up to head coach Andy Reid. … Wide receiver Reggie Brown (Achilles) and running back Brian Westbrook (coach's decision) did not play Friday nights against Pittsburgh.