Earlier in the offseason, the Green Bay Packers expressed interest in free agent running back Brian Westbrook.
The former Philadelphia Eagles star has had injury problems his entire career and missed eight games with concussions in 2009, but when healthy, Westbrook has been a force, twice rushing for 1,200 yards. Now 30, Westbrook appears near the end of his career, but could still provide a team with Super Bowl aspirations veteran leadership and a low-risk, high-reward third-down weapon.
A team like the Green Bay Packers.
Westbrook has been courted by the Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams and Denver Broncos, but let’s face it, those teams are going to be mediocre at best. Unless he’s just looking to collect a paycheck, there’s really no reason for Westbrook to sign with any of those teams.
At this point in his career, Westbrook wants to sign with a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.
A team like the Green Bay Packers.
Westbrook’s strategy appears to be to wait things out in hopes of finding the right fit. The National Football Post’s Matt Bowen reports that Westbrook is open to signing with the Minnesota Vikings and also tells us why a move by the Packers would make sense.
Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe said Westbrook would have “no problem” playing for Minnesota this season and that the RB is in football shape.
Again, it is just talk. But, that doesn’t mean that Westbrook can’t draw interest from a contender. And, this is where I question if the RB would take an offer from a team such as St. Louis. A rebuilding squad who will end up playing rookie QB Sam Bradford at some point in the 2010 season. The impact that Westbrook could provide will be lost for a team that is still learning how to win football games.
That is why a club such as Minnesota—who could have a very realistic role for Westbrook—should at least entertain the idea of giving him a look. The same could be said for Mike McCarthy’s Packers. Adding a veteran presence that can still provide production from a situational role before camp is a bonus, a luxury and something that could turn into a steal.
I always hate speculating about things like this because deep down, I know Packers general manager Ted Thompson probably won’t make a move, even though it makes perfect sense.
The Packers running back depth looks something like this: Ryan Grant, Brandon Jackson, James Starks, Kregg Lumpkin, Quinn Porter.
Grant is the clear-cut No. 1 back. Porter, an undrafted free agent, and Lumpkin, who had one rushing attempt in 2008 and didn’t play in 2009, are unlikely to make the team.
That leaves Jackson and Starks, who are somewhat unknowns.
Starks was chosen in the sixth round of this year’s draft and appears to have a great shot at being the No. 3 back, providing he shows anything in the preseason.
Jackson, a former second-round pick from Nebraska, hasn’t left much of an impression in three seasons in Green Bay. He’s never rushed for more than 300 yards in a season. He’s never turned into a reliable receiving threat.
About the best thing the Packers have ever said about Jackson is he can pick up the blitz.
It’s pretty apparent where Westbrook would fit in and signing him would be a smart move by the Packers.
If Westbrook has nothing left in the tank, the team can simply cut their losses and go with Jackson and Starks. If he does, he provides the third-down weapon the team is lacking and can mentor Starks until he’s ready to take over the role.
Of course, that probably makes way too much sense.