PITTSBURGH -- The details are finally in - superstar running back Brian Westbrook and the Eagles agreed to a new, lucrative six-year deal and both sides are happy and, wow, what a nice piece of positive news heading into tonight's preseason opener!
Team President Joe Banner addressed the media and explained how this was the most complicated contract that he has ever worked on, but the essence is this: The Eagles have done their part to reward a player who outperformed a contract and Westbrook and agent Todd France should be given credit for working with the team to come up with a solution.
One of the most-scrutinized stories of the summer, Westbrook's contract issue has been a front-and-center issue with the media and the fans. Westbrook handled his part of the story with total class. He never once threatened to hold out. He never missed a practice. He never complained. Oh, Westbrook made it clear that he wanted a new deal and he went out and changed agents, but the star running back who amassed a franchise-record 2,104 yards from scrimmage last season went out and did his job and allowed the negotiations to be done behind the scenes.
On Friday afternoon, just hours before the preseason opener against Pittsburgh, the negotiations ended and the deal was done. Officially done.
A complicated series of negotiations led to a series of smiles on Friday afternoon.
"As I've said many times, I believe Brian Westbrook is the best running back in football," said head coach Andy Reid. "He can do it all from that position, whether it's running, catching the football or blocking. He is a true professional and leader on and off the field and it's a great deal for both Brian and the Eagles organization. I'd like to give credit to Joe Banner, Todd France and Brian for working so diligently in getting this deal done.
"We look forward to Brian having a great 2008 season and beyond."
So you want some positive momentum, something that started in December of 2007 with three straight wins, continued into the off-season with an aggressive and successful free agency, bounced through the draft with a series of moves and then carried into training camp and now the preseason? Welcome to good mojo, folks. The Eagles take care of their own. They have demonstrated that many, many times in the past, and they demonstrated their approach once again with Westbrook.
The only mystery now is the terms of the deal, and Banner will try to explain to the masses what it all means in this world of the hard-to-understand Collective Bargaining Agreement. There were limits to what the Eagles could do with Westbrook here, but the Eagles no doubt went to the very edge of what they could provide to the classy and enormously-talented Westbrook. From the day No. 36 showed up at training camp with an optimistic approach, the path to getting a deal done was cleared.
Both sides wanted each other and both sides kept open the lines of communication to get it wrapped up in a nice, neat package.
It's a good start -- no, a great start -- to the preseason's opening day. Westbrook is safe, secure and happy. He has a big year ahead of him in an offense that is perfectly suited to his many skills, and it is safe to say that Westbrook will likely be an Eagle for many years to come and, maybe, the rest of his career.